Another April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day is on 1 April
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore the origins of April Fool’s Day, and their connections to the Christian Church.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the following April Fool’s Day stories from 2019 and the means to display them during the assembly:
- McDonald’s announces new milkshake sauce pots, available at: https://tinyurl.com/t87szkw
- Nintendo announces that Kirby is now square-shaped. An image of round Kirby is available at: https://tinyurl.com/t8fg7fk and an image of square Kirby is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y5qy6h5l
- Lego announces the launch of an app called Find My Brick, available at: https://tinyurl.com/rt4x5zr
- Comment on the date and point out that April Fool’s Day is celebrated in many countries throughout the world. In the UK, Australia and South Africa, the pranks are only meant to be played until midday. However, in other countries including Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Russia and the USA, the fun continues all day!
- Ask the students to raise their hands if they have ever played an April Fool’s joke, had one played on them or heard of something done to someone else.
If appropriate, ask the students to share some of their experiences.
- Relate some April Fool’s pranks played in recent years.
- One newspaper announced that the Royal Mint was going to release a new line in 50p pieces. The collection would be based on emojis including the poo emoji!
- One newspaper suggested that April Fool’s pranks were going to be banned.
- Show the McDonald’s announcement about its new milkshake sauce pots.
McDonald’s announced its new milkshake sauce pots on Twitter.
- Show the images of round Kirby and square Kirby.
Nintendo announced that Kirby would now be square-shaped. This might not mean anything to you if you’re not a Nintendo fan, but a famously round character was made square, triggering 40,000 tweets in response!
- Show the Lego announcement about the launch of its new Find My Brick app.
Lego announced the launch of a new app called Find My Brick, which could supposedly use the camera on a mobile phone to find any brick in a pile of Lego.
- Explain that different countries have their own traditions on April Fool’s Day. In France, children try to stick paper fish on each other’s backs without their target noticing. When the recipient realizes, the child who stuck the fish on shouts, ‘Poisson d’avril!’, which means ‘April fish’.
- In the USA, a common joke in the eighteenth century was to point up at the sky and shout, ‘Look at that flock of geese!’ If the children looked, they would be called ‘April fool’. Today, people are more likely to say, ‘Look, your shoelace is undone,’ or something similar.
- Explain that April Fool’s Day is a bit of light-hearted fun, but as with many traditions, its origins have connections with the Christian Church.
- Explain that it is not certain where or when April Fool’s Day began. However, the most popular idea is that it began in France in the sixteenth century, when new year celebrations, similar to those we have today, were moved from 1 April to 1 January.
Most people did as they were told, but some people chose to ignore the change, while others, because of communication difficulties, didn’t hear about the change at all. This led to widespread confusion. People who did not change to celebrating on 1 January became the butt of jokes and over time, this developed into 1 April being a special day when jokes and pranks were encouraged; these were called April fools.
Later, the Church decreed that, to provide uniformity, every country in the Christian world should change its calendar to make 1 January the start of the new year.
Time for reflection
Encourage the students to think about their friends. Good friends are there for us when we are sad and look after us if we are lonely, but they also love to laugh and joke with us.
Jesus had a group of special friends when he was on earth. There is no doubt that he would have laughed and joked with them.
There is a verse in the Bible that tells us something about smiling and happiness. Proverbs 15.13 says, ‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful.’
Encourage the students to try to make someone else happy today.
‘Don’t worry, be happy’ by Bobby McFerrin, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU (4.03 minutes long)