April Fools’ day is known in Italy as pesce d’aprile. No matter the name every culture gives to this day, the purpose of it is common worldwide and a lot of countries celebrate it, including Italy.
Il pesce d’aprile, April Fools’day, is celebrated on April 1st and it is a day during which Italians, too, have the custom of playing practical jokes on friends and relatives, following the ancient traditions of tricks played in far-off times.
Even if this custom is supposed to have its origins in the sixteenth century, it only really became popular in Italy around 1860-1880, especially in Genoa – which inaugurated this tradition – and was particularly practiced among the upper classes of society.
The explanation to the name pesce d’aprile, literally April’s fish, is often linked in Italy to the zodiac and in particular to the fact that every event that happened in that date was related to the abandon of the Pisces constellation from the Sun. From there it comes the custom of celebrating the event in an unusual way, on April 1st.
Even if this tradition is not an exclusive of Italy, April’s Fool is celebrated in numerous countries, the tricks played by Italians are certainly among the more colourful. Everybody, from children to adults want to have fun, including the media: some memorable tricks have been played throughout the decades by played radio, tv, and more recently, the internet, which would spread fake news, only to reveal the lie later during the day.
There are actually some jokes that have marked the history of this day in Italy. Here are some of them:
– The most ancient joke in Italy is that of the announcement made by Buoncompagno from Florence in the XIII century when he promised to fly over the town of Bologna with a machine he invented on April 1st. The whole population gathered to see the flight, which actually never took place as it was a trick.
– In March 1878 the Gazzetta d’Italia, an Italian newspaper, announced that people from Florence could have watched the cremation of an Indian mahraja but they never saw it as some people came out of a bush shouting “pesce d’aprile” exactly when the coming of the hearse was expected.
– In 1967 a leaflet from URFA, an office in charge of rescuing abandoned cats, announced that starting from that moment cats were banned from the town. Some people also started to abandon their cats.
– In 2001 the newspaper La Stampa announced that some complex forms of biological life, huge worms, existed on Mars and that they had left their traces on our planet. In the same day the newspaper La Repubblica announced a Finnish experiment on telepathy. According to a non-existent scientist telepathy would have soon become a human mental faculty.
Italians like having fun and playing tricks on this day in which everything is accepted. Children stick paper fish to the back of their classmates, and the longer until the friend finds out, the funniest the joke. Therefore, if you ever go to Italy on April 1st don’t get surprised if you hear the famous motto of the day “pesce d’aprile” and a joke upon.