“April Fool’s Day,” is a day set aside annually when people prank on their friends, families and neighbours for fun.
The Day is marked on April 1, globally, and said to have started on April 1, 1700, when English pranksters commenced popularising the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.
Though the Day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origin remains a mystery.
According to history.com, some historians speculated that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563.
People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognise that the start of the New Year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the victim of jokes and hoaxes.
These pranks included; having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish), said to symbolise a young, “easily hooked” fish and a gullible person.
April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century and in Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.
Ghanaians over the years caught up with the fun and every first day of the fourth month of the year, friends, family members, wake colleagues and neighbours test the gullibility of each other.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Ms Faustina Nsoh, a resident of Ashaiman Newtown, after laughing for a while and trying to catch her breath, said, “I remember last year, my sister fooled me that my Uncle who lived about 30 minutes’ walk away from our house needed my help.”
She said she quickly walked to the Uncle’s house but did not meet him and was later told it was “April Fool”.
“At that moment I was confused and called my sister and she told me on the phone ‘April Fool’.”
“I will not forget the day this year, I’m planning for her,” she said.
Ms Eugenia Ansah, a student, said last year, she picked a prank on her neighbour telling her she had a visitor outside, saying, “It was funny to see how she believed and quickly wore her slippers, freshened up just to meet nobody.”
Mr Joseph Hanson, a taxi driver, said last year, he did not take note of the day but, “I am really counting the days for this year. Last year, my first call of the day was what appeared to be a customer who needed dropping.
“I woke up and drove about 20 to 30 minutes to the said venue, but there was nobody there. I returned the call just to hear my friend’s voice ‘April Fool,’I was so hurt, but I couldn’t react because I did it to him the previous year,” he said.
Pastor Theophilus Henry Quamson, Holy Ghost Worship Centre, Assemblies of God, Ashaiman, said pranking was always a simple joke, “But over the years, people were overdoing it and making their friends and loved ones travel distances and do the unthinkable.”
He said such jokes could damage relationships and advised the youth to be mindful of how they marked the Day.
Reverend Albright Benibensu, Vice President, Ghana Psychology Association, said generally, pranking was not good for people with underlying health conditions and that people with anxiety disorders could have cardiac arrests.
He said negative pranks could also destroy trust and break relationships whilst positive pranks brought joy and laughter.
Rev. Benibensu said it was, therefore, important that opinion leaders, especially pastors and psychologists created awareness on the Day for “positive results.”
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