April Fools' Day in Ireland - ISI Dublin
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April Fools’ Day in Ireland

April 1, 2016

Beware!

In Ireland as in many other countries the first day of April is the traditional day of pranks. Some classic examples are switching the ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ signs on doors, changing the language on someone’s phone, food colouring in the milk, the list goes on…

The idea is simple: to trick your friends with some disingenuous information and make them the ‘April Fool’. If you are known as a gullible person you need to be extra careful if you are to survive this day unembarrassed.

So where does this tradition come from? Its origins are unclear but some relate it to the Roman festival of Hilaria, celebrated on March 25th. This was a celebration of the arrival of Spring and the first day of the year which was longer than the night. This festival was devoted to days of public rejoicings and it involved games in honour of the mother of the gods. All kinds of games and amusements were permitted during the festival of Hilaria, and masquerades were among the most popular. Hilarious no doubt!

Perhaps the most famous Irish April Fools’ Day prank was pulled in 1965 when the newspaper The Irish Times ran an article detailing Taoiseach Seán Lemass’ plans to ban alcohol and enforce prohibition in Ireland. Needless to say the readers were more than concerned until Lemass came out and reassured everybody and denounced the publication as nothing more than an elaborate joke.

A classic Irish tradition on April 1st is give a ‘very important’ letter to an unsuspecting victim. They are then asked to deliver the important letter to a specific person and upon reading the letter this person gravely sends the victim to deliver it to another person. After delivering the same letter to a few different people the victim usually becomes suspicious. When they have had enough and finally open the letter they find that it contains no more than one sentence reading “Don’t you laugh and don’t you smile, send the fool another mile”, much to their dismay.

On April Fools’ day originality is key, as is the art of deception. Some people are more gifted in this area than others, so if anybody asks you to run an unusual errand or gives you some particularly strange news today, beware that you may be being taken for an April Fool!

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