April Fool’s Day

As you’ve no doubt realised, the Monocoin story was a mild attempt at humour on this April Fool’s Day. We are in good company here at the SWIFT Institute…

In 1957, a BBC news report featuring a family harvesting spaghetti from spaghetti trees was later described by CNN as “the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled.”  In more recent times, Google launched a website promoting Google Nose (Beta) that allows users to search for smells and promotes the fact that Street Sense vehicles had “inhaled and indexed millions of atmospheric miles.”  In the financial services world, the Motley Fool publicly confessed in 1998 to having been wrong for years about underperforming mutual funds…and blaming it all on an upside-down chart.  Why do all of these reputable organisations feel the need to feed the general public made-up stories on the first day of April?

The origins of April Fool’s Day are vague with the first mention made in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales written in 1392.  In the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, the vain rooster Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox on 1st April, though ironically modern scholars dispute this date blaming it on an error when copying the original manuscript.  Others think it was a way of making fun of people who continued to celebrate New Years on 1st April, even though Pope Gregory XIII had named 1st January as the new New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century.  The first confirmed reference in Britain was in 1686, when John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day” and twelve years later, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

Italy, France and parts of Belgium have a different take on the occasion and use the day to stick paper fishes on each other’s backs and shout out ‘April fish!’  Honestly.  You can’t make this stuff up.