It looks like almost all countries in the Western World somehow celebrate on the first day of April of every year. Everyone seems to do it in a different way though, and if some countries celebrate the day with practical jokes and general foolishness only until noon, in Italy – like in the US – it goes on all day long!
The traditional April Fool’s trick (pesce d’Aprile) takes place in the schools. There is no clearly defined victim and literally everybody from students to teachers and staff employees can end up this day with one or more paper drawings of a fish taped somewhere on them, usually on his/her back!
Everybody makes up the weirdest excuses to hug or pat you on the back that day. It becomes a real game to make a fool of the poor…fish!
But this whole thing goes beyond school scenes. Adults have their own dose of silliness on April Fool’s Day and even authorities, such as politicians and media, are often involved!
They usually make a shocking statement or publish odd news that are often so well thought-out that it is really hard to judge if they’re real or not. And you usually have to wait until April 2nd to find out, when the media rank the best jokes!
I still remember the joke pulled off by a local government agency that had recently been hit by a huge scandal in which female police officers posed for a sexy calendar in their uniforms (which sold out before the initiative could be aborted, by the way). It was a well-known fact that this agency was no going well financially, so they published the news that, due to the success of the police calendar, they were going to raise money by making a similar calendar!
Now, I know that here this might not sound as shocking, but if you think about a small town in Italy in which everybody knows almost everybody else and 99% of the population is Catholic….well, you get the picture! The reaction was quite funny…
My favorite April Fool’s Day, though, was the one from 4 years ago, when all my friends managed to make a real fool of me!
I was moving to the US soon and among all the things I had to do before leaving, this birthday party came up. A new addition to our group, someone’s new girlfriend, was turning 28? I don’t really remember her age…
As you can imagine, I couldn’t have cared less considering the timing and the fact that I barely knew her! But since she was in the circle and I could not ignore the whole thing, my friends got me all busy and worried like usual about finding a birthday gift for her and other arrangements!
When I got to the party location, I obviously ran in, hugged her and wished her “Happy Birthday” right? What was I supposed to do?
Well, at that moment, the entire place started laughing and the birthday girl started yelling at me (because in Italy you can wish “Happy Birthday” to somebody only on the actual day or on the following few days or it is said to bring bad luck to the person) … then I noticed this huge poster on the back wall of the room that said “Bye, bye, Eliana. Come back soon!” It was my farewell party!