April Fools’ Day brings memories of prank calls to your neighbors, short sheeting the beds of your siblings, and fake blood to scare your mother. What is often called All Fools’ Day is celebrated every year on April 1st by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a public holiday in any country. But that doesn’t stop the tricksters.

The custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbor is recognized everywhere. Some precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilario, the Holi festival of India, and the Medieval Feast of Fools. These are just a few examples.

The prank-playing is not limited to individuals. There is quite a history of elaborate practical jokes appearing on radio and TV stations, newspapers, web sites, and even being performed by large corporations. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.

No hi-jinks here, just building ANSI/ISO/W3C-compliant taxonomies for our clients. The trick to that is standards.

Melody K. Smith

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