April Fools’ Day in Italy is called Pesce d’Aprile, or April Fool Fish. It literally translates as April’s Fish, and stems from a school children’s custom of sticking a paper fish on the back of a school mate. As he or she is the only one who doesn’t know about the fish, that person then becomes the April Fish, or fool.
We must presume that Italians view fish as rather dumb or foolish. And I don’t imagine they are very high on the list of intelligent animals. I mean, who’s ever heard of a circus fish, or anything like that? But it also happens that fish in Italian can also stand for a sucker!
But tradition traces the origin of April Fools’ Day back to the 1500’s. When our Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian calendar, it also changed New Year’s Day from April 1st to January 1st. Those who forgot that New Year’s Day was no longer April 1st became April fools.
The Spaghetti Tree Hoax
But the greatest April Fools’ hoax of all time was the spaghetti tree hoax of 1957.
A BBC report pictured a family in southern Switzerland picking spaghetti from a tree! The BBC received many phone calls after this broadcast, including some to tell them that spaghetti does not grow on trees. But perhaps because pasta was a rarely eaten, exotic delicacy in England at the time, many calls requested information on how to grow their own spaghetti trees!
A spaghetti tree! Now wouldn’t that be useful? Just think of all the money we could save! And it would make it so easy to have organic pasta!
We find the spaghetti tree more amusing than the paper fish. But then, we’re not school kids who, of course, love hoaxes! Although there are probably few places in today’s world where such a trick would go over. Spaghetti is now eaten pretty much around the globe.
So if you are planning a hoax for your friends, an April Fool’s Fish might just go over better than a spaghetti tree! But anyway, have fun watching the video! Well, we’re off to eat a seafood lunch — and no April Fool’s about it!
And then go here to watch the story behind this April Fool’s joke! And Happy Pesce d’Aprile to you all!
Image credits: Spaghetti tree by Robert Couse-Baker from Sacramento, California – sunny april morning spaghetti tree harvest, CC BY 2.0; from wikimedia.org.