In the UK, it almost certainly goes back as far as medieval times and possibly beyond. As it is essentially a folk event there are few historical records of April Fools Day.
One of the strongest candidates for its origin was the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Poe Gregory decreed that the calendar would start on 1st January. Because communications were a bit on the slow side in those days many folk continued to celebrate the start of the day under the old calendar on 1st April and so left them selves open to ridicule and the label of April Fools.
As The Norwegians are not exactly renowned for their sense of humour, it came as something of a surprise that they pulled an April Fools day prank on their Swedish neighbours. The newspaper Aftenposten published a story supported with full page adverts that tried to lure the unsuspecting Swedes into believing that due to the influences of the Gulf Stream they could enjoy Mediterranean holidays at "Playa Los Fjordos," where they could swim in fjords warmed up to tropical temperatures. Where, the water temperature had risen to a positively balmy 24C (75F). It is not recorded how many Swedes fell for the prank. It has to be remembered that the Norwegians and the Swedes have a similar relationship to the English and the Irish when it comes to Jokes.
Probably one of the most famous April Fools day pranks in the UK was the BBC’s report of the Swiss Spaghetti harvest. In 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in, and many called up wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. [View original video clip – needs Real Player].
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