April Fools’ Day and New Year’s Day are linked in European history when, prior to the year 1582, the beginning of every new year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25 and ending on April 1. With the adoption of a new Gregorian calendar in France under Charles IX, New Year’s Day was moved to January 1. Without the benefit of broadcast news, cell phones and social media back in the 16th century, needless to say communication was very slow. People “in the know” made fun of folks from the countryside and remote areas, who hadn’t heard about the switch. They were called “fools” for continuing to celebrate the new year on April 1st. Over time, it seems, the teasing grew into pranks.
Practical jokes on this day can be as simple as saying, “Your shoe is untied,” or as elaborate as news media running outrageous stories. One of my favorite April Fools’ hoaxes I learned about during my online search was the story broadcast by BBC Radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am on the first of April, the alignment of the planet Pluto behind Jupiter was going to decrease gravity on Earth. Listeners were told if they jumped in the air at that time, they would get a floating feeling. Shortly after the specified time, members of the radio audience began calling in to report they felt the lower gravity sensation. One lady even claimed she and her friends rose from their seats and floated around the room!
April Fool’s Day e-cards found from an online search at PCH Search and Win range from phony “I’m Expecting!” announcements to notes asking, “Why Did You Miss My Birthday?” Surely the messages on these cards would startle their recipients, if for only a moment, before big smiles started to break out.
That emotional transition – shock and disbelief turning into happiness – reminds me of the reaction we often get from sweepstakes prize winners when the PCH Prize Patrol shows up unannounced with a Big Check for the surprise of a lifetime. Many sweepstakes winning moments have opened with shrill screams and gasps of “You’re kidding!” followed shortly thereafter by laughter and tears of joy.
Are you hoping for a sweepstakes winning moment of your own? Enter the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes at pch.com, or with an online search at PCH Search and Win, or at any of the other play and win opportunities offered by PCH online. YOU could be our next big sweepstakes prize winner – and that’s no April Fools’ joke!
Executive Vice President
PCH Publishers Clearing House