April Fool's fun for the family

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  April 1, 2009 06:45 AM

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When I picked my fun-loving 4-year-old up at preschool yesterday, she greeted me with, "Mama! April first is tomorrow! We can fool people with jokes and make people laugh! More than normally!"

I've never been one for pranks, but I love a stupid joke or a tricky riddle. I've always wondered why April 1 is linked with silliness; thanks to a little easy internet sleuthing, I discovered that April Fool's Day has been taking place in France since the late 1500s, when Pope Gregory XIII switched from the Julian calendar, which celebrated New Year's Day in the springtime around April 1, to the Gregorian calendar, which dictated that the New Year began on January 1. Those who disregarded the change -- or who hadn't heard about it -- were called fools and were tricked into going on "fool's errands."

(Of course, there are loopholes in that explanation, most historians say, though it seem to be the most plausible of the bunch. For more theories, click over to the Museum of Hoaxes).

Regardless of its origin, April Fool's Day is celebrated in different days in different countries -- in Scotland, for instance, the jokes have to do with one's backside, the day is called "Taily Day," and the classic "Kick Me" sign reigns supreme. In England, the rules are that jokes can only be played in the morning. And in the US, of course, pretty much anything goes.

If you're looking on some fun ways to celebrate (harmlessly!), here are a few options:


Elephant jokes.
What cheers you up when you are sick? A getwellephant card.


Knock Knock jokes.
This collection is full of clean -- and pretty funny -- jokes.

Brainteasers. Palindromes, puzzles, and more.

Harmless pranks. Practical jokes are always tricky. You know your kids best, so pick ones that suit your family. The ones at this site are really tame.

Riddles. What can you catch but not throw? (A cold!)

What's your favorite April Fool's joke, practical or otherwise? Please share in the comments!

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.


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10 comments so far...
  1. funny

    Posted by gary vandervest April 1, 09 09:02 AM
  1. Dats good idea!, April Fool.

    Posted by Chy April 1, 09 09:19 AM
  1. I really like the online pranks. Google mail (mail.google.com) always posts a good prank. And expedia is offering a trip to mars! (http://www.expedia.com/daily/mars/flights-to-mars/?mcicid=Mars_home_us).

    Posted by Julie April 1, 09 12:32 PM
  1. Oh, and Dailyreader is getting out of the book business (http://www.dailyreader.net).

    Posted by Julie April 1, 09 12:33 PM
  1. My girls LOVE elephant jokes!!!

    Posted by bv April 1, 09 01:10 PM
  1. At school today, my class set off 2 stinkbombs!
    It was the best day ever! the teachers went mad and we couldnt stop laughing! that is the best april fools day joke and i would recomend it to anyone lost for ideas!

    Posted by Mozza April 1, 09 02:32 PM
  1. i put brown food coloring and raisins in the toilet and told my mom that i didn't want to go to the bathroom because there was diariah in the toilet!!! my sister was so mad at my!! only for like five minutes though!! then we all laughed so hard!!! it was so funny!!!

    Posted by EGPerry10 April 1, 09 04:11 PM
  1. It's not April Fool's Day.

    It's April Fools' Day.

    Posted by Abe April 1, 09 07:11 PM
  1. I like the elephant joke

    Posted by Terri April 2, 09 05:46 PM
  1. I've written up some of my pranks, like how to fill an office to the top with balloons and how to throw a party in an elevator, if you're interested! It's at http://johnnymonsarrat.com

    Posted by Johnny Monsarrat February 9, 10 12:10 PM
 
10 comments so far...
  1. funny

    Posted by gary vandervest April 1, 09 09:02 AM
  1. Dats good idea!, April Fool.

    Posted by Chy April 1, 09 09:19 AM
  1. I really like the online pranks. Google mail (mail.google.com) always posts a good prank. And expedia is offering a trip to mars! (http://www.expedia.com/daily/mars/flights-to-mars/?mcicid=Mars_home_us).

    Posted by Julie April 1, 09 12:32 PM
  1. Oh, and Dailyreader is getting out of the book business (http://www.dailyreader.net).

    Posted by Julie April 1, 09 12:33 PM
  1. My girls LOVE elephant jokes!!!

    Posted by bv April 1, 09 01:10 PM
  1. At school today, my class set off 2 stinkbombs!
    It was the best day ever! the teachers went mad and we couldnt stop laughing! that is the best april fools day joke and i would recomend it to anyone lost for ideas!

    Posted by Mozza April 1, 09 02:32 PM
  1. i put brown food coloring and raisins in the toilet and told my mom that i didn't want to go to the bathroom because there was diariah in the toilet!!! my sister was so mad at my!! only for like five minutes though!! then we all laughed so hard!!! it was so funny!!!

    Posted by EGPerry10 April 1, 09 04:11 PM
  1. It's not April Fool's Day.

    It's April Fools' Day.

    Posted by Abe April 1, 09 07:11 PM
  1. I like the elephant joke

    Posted by Terri April 2, 09 05:46 PM
  1. I've written up some of my pranks, like how to fill an office to the top with balloons and how to throw a party in an elevator, if you're interested! It's at http://johnnymonsarrat.com

    Posted by Johnny Monsarrat February 9, 10 12:10 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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