April 1st, the Fool’s Day is not included into calendars of memorable dates and holidays celebrates all over the world. However, everybody knows that this is the day when we should be ready for practical jokes, laughter and lots of fun. It’s honored not less than even any traditional professional holiday.
Jokes played on people on April 1st are of different ingenuity and scale: some tricks are played inside a family and concern only direct participants of the trick; but others may infect masses of population like a virus, and may even entail unexpected consequences.
Many people still consider it the best trick of the century when on April 1, 1957 BBC reported unbelievable macaroni crop in Switzerland. The TV company broadcast a report from a field where farmers gathered boiled macaroni. At that, the announcer reported main achievement of this agricultural sector: it was for the first time that gathered macaroni were of equal length, which was possible only thanks to numerous experiments held by several breeder generations. The BBC editors got lots of responses from TV viewers: some people were surprised to learn that macaroni were growing vertically, not horizontally; some asked to send seedlings of the incredible macaroni. Just few people sounded confused in their letters: until that TV report by BBC they were perfectly sure that macaroni were made of flour, not grown on fields.
In fact, as soon as mass media appeared, they became the author of such provocations almost immediately. At that, British mass media were the most refined with practical jokes. For instance, in 1698 a London newspaper published an announcement saying that lions would be washed in Tower; the sensational news attracted crowds of idlers. In 1860, another newspaper copied the announcement, and in almost 100 years the effect of the publication was the same.
About 15 years ago Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported in its issue on April 1st that a mammoth calf was found frozen somewhere in Chukotka; when people discovered the animal, it revived and was later settled in a Moscow zoo. Some school teacher from Siberia gathered a group of pupils to make an excursion to Moscow. The woman couldn’t guess it was a practical joke and kicked up a row with the zoo administration because she and her group even had to take a plain to come to Moscow and see the mammoth reported in the newspaper.
It was incredible when in 1990 Russia’s weekly Sobesednik reported an allegedly scientific “research” saying that there was no poet named Alexander Blok (in fact, the poet lived in Russia in the time of the Great October Revolution). The publication was so much convincing that dozens of literary critics from all parts of the country (they were people with high scientific degrees!) started earnest and active polemics with the weekly.
Vecherny Chelyabinsk newspaper
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://society.pravda.ru/society/2003/8/81/324/9123_makarona.html
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