April fool's day.
Most European countries "celebrate" April 1st in some strange way, either by mocking the simple-minded or honouring the fool.
Most of the tricks played on this day are far from original, and many have been used so often that they have become traditional.
The most common form of the joke is to send a simple-minded person on some fruitless errand. Naturally, children are the easiest victims. They may be sent to get a dozen cock's eggs, or a stick with one end, or a litre of sweet vinegar, or, probably, a leather hammer, or a pint of pigeon's milk.
A popular joke is to say that something is wrong with your victim's dress (when in fact everything is in order) or that a cockroach is crawling over his or her clothes (there's no cockroach, of course).
At school children try to pin notices like "Kick me", or "I'm a fool" on each other's backs. Teachers have to be very careful or they, too, might find themselves walking around with a silly sign on their backs.
Some jokes are not so harmless. For example, you may step into a basin of water placed secretly where you are sure to step into it. You may get salt in your coffee instead of sugar. You may fall on the floor because your trousers are sewn up or your shoe-laces are tied.
These jokes may be silly, but they succeed again and again.
On April 1st television and radio services join in the fun. They tell unbelievable stories and advertise nonexistent goods. Newspapers print long articles which turn out to be jokes. Often, you have to read the long article to the very end to realise that you have been fooled.

Last Updated (Friday, 19 February 2010 16:00)