April Fools’ Day around the world

27th March 2017

Emily Robertshaw

In celebration of April Fools’ Day here are some of the best pranks carried out around the world.



In France, children stick paper fish to their friends’ backs as a practical joke. Each person with a fish stuck to his or her back is called the Poisson d’Avril – ‘April Fish’. We’re not sure where the fish tradition comes from but it’s perhaps because the Pisces zodiac sign comes just before April.

People believe that when King Charles XIV moved the start of the Gregorian calendar from 1st April to 1st January in 1564, there were still people in rural villages who hadn’t heard about it. They were then fooled by others to believe 1st April was still New Year.

The Italians, Belgians and Swiss celebrate their own ‘April Fish’ day too!



Iran has the oldest known prank day, which dates back to 536BC. Their day coincides with Sizah Be-dar, which is part of Persian New Year celebrations, during which most people take picnics to local parks to celebrate with nature.

People play typical pranks on each other as well as performing certain rituals. For example, they throw out all green vegetables to get rid of bad luck for the coming year.




The Portuguese celebrate more than one prank day a year. As well as pulling tricks on the Dia da Mentira, as April 1st is commonly known, they also prank each other during the carnivals in the runup to Lent.

It’s tradition to buy a bag or sack of flour and throw it at your friends. Like in the UK, the joker needs to play the prank by throwing flour before midday, otherwise they’re the fool.





Prima Aprilis is celebrated on 1st April as it is in the UK. It’s a big day of fun for everyone, including the media who publish hoax stories in newspapers and broadcast them on TV to fool the general public.

Pranks like changing numbers around in someone’s phone or changing the time on a clock or their PC are very common on this day. Or perhaps like in the image, filling Oreo biscuits with toothpaste!




India’s prank day coincides with their famous Holi festival. During the festival people play  jokes on one another and throw coloured powder paint. Despite what some articles say, Holi and India’s prank day are not always celebrated on 31st  March as the date changes depending on the Phalgun Pumima (full moon). In 2017 Holi took place from the evening of 12th March until the evening of 13th March and in 2018 it will take place between the 1st and 2nd March.

Find out more about Holi festival here.



The Scottish celebrate their prank day over 2 days.

Day one is called ‘Hunt the Gowk (cuckoo) day’, during which people play pranks on each other and try to catch each other out in embarrassing situations. Day two is called ‘Taily day’, which refers to people’s behinds and is said to be where the kick me sign originates from!


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