Lisa's week: The joke’s on you!
At the end of this week, we will see in April and therefore, April Fool’s Day on the 1st. It would appear that most of the western world celebrates this silly day and people love to play pranks on each other.
There’s no general consensus on why this day was picked for joking around but some suggest that it might just be linked to the changing of the seasons and the Vernal Equinox with related celebrations at this time of year or the Roman celebration of Hilaria at the end of March when people would dress up in disguise. There is also talk of it becoming a day of celebration when France changed to the Gregorian calendar in 1564, which moved new year to 1st January. Anyone found still celebrating the new year in March through to 1st April became the subject of jokes and paper fish (“poisson d’avril”) would be pinned on their backs to symbolise a young fish which is easy to catch and therefore gullible.
Regardless of how or why it first came into being, by the 1700s it seems to have become widespread and over the years, many great jokes have been thought up and played out. In the UK and some other countries, however, pranks are only supposed to be played until 12.00 noon after which time, if you trick someone else, then you are in fact the “April Fool”!
I remember playing tricks on my parents as a child which of course they saw right through but played along with me anyway, and then being the butt of many jokes myself by friends as I got older – yes, I’m quite gullible myself!
However, the favourite of many a Brit is the BBC Panorama joke played on viewers back in 1957 when they reported on Switzerland’s “spaghetti harvest”. The BBC was considered to be the ultimate source of information in those days and therefore, most of the viewers totally believed what was being presented as fact. Remember that in the 1950’s foreign travel was beyond the means of most British people and Italian food was only just becoming known at all. Many were fascinated by this insight into an exotic new food from hot, far-away lands! It is said that the BBC received many letters of complaint about this wonderful piece of trickery and many viewers reported being disappointed to have been taken in by such an esteemed organisation.
These days, you will find good April Fool jokes in every corner of our media-filled world – TV, radio, newspapers, internet and advertising will all compete to have the best joke. The thing is… will I be able to pick it out and laugh? Or will I be taken in by the story or advertising just like those poor BBC views from 1957?!?
PS. You can find the BBC Spaghetti Harvest on YouTube here – watch and smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVo_wkxH9dU
What is Lisa's week?
"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"
Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday
Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?
Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?
Episode 4: The sound of London
Episode 5: Not just a last resort
Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise
Episode 7: Title talk
Episode 8: The Union Jack
Episode 9: Why Thursday?
Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?
Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!
Episode 13: Up in the Highlands
Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends
Episode 15: Pie in the sky
Episode 16: Through the tunnel
Episode 17: Keep left!
Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise
Episode 19: How do you say that?
Episode 20: Back to School!
Episode 21: Sweet cravings
Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?
Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"
Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)
Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?
Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.
Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!
Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot
Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?
Episode 30: Bless you!
Episode 31: What are you thankful for?
Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?
Episode 33: What's behind the door?
Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!
Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?
Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year
Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?
Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2
Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?
Episode 40: Sweet Valentine
Episode 41: A Reminder
Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!
Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils
Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question
Episode 45: The whole world's going green!
Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs