The Last Laugh: Parental Pranks for April 1

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The exact origin of April Fool's Day is uncertain, but popular belief is that it began in France with the adoption of a new calendar. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar (still in use today) replaced the long-standing Julian calendar and New Year's celebrations were moved from April 1 to January 1.

People who continued to celebrate the new year on April 1 were labeled "fools" and often ridiculed. This harassment evolved over time, and now "All Fool's Day" is practised in many parts of the world with each country celebrating it in their own special way.

In Scotland, "Taily Day" lasts 48 hours and is devoted to pranks involving the buttocks. The Scots are rumoured to have invented the "Kick Me" sign.

In France, children exclaim "Poisson d'Avril" (April fish) when playing a prank, referring to a young fish which is easily caught.

In Rome, the "Festival of Hilaria" is on March 25 and is also referred to as "Roman Laughing Day".

While children relish tricking us on this special day, why let them have all the fun. Here are some ways for you to trick them:

Replace the cream filling out of Oreo-type cookies and fill with mint toothpaste. Put in lunches or on a plate and watch their faces.

Send a cheese sandwich for lunch, but "forget" to remove the plastic wrapper off the slice. Consider even placing a note inside stating, "Got 'cha!" or "April Fool".

Put some water in a cereal bowl, and place it in the freezer the night before. Offer to get your family cereal in the morning. Put a thin layer of their favourite cereals on top of the ice, and serve.

Or, just before your kids come down to eat breakfast, put some food colouring in the milk. Blue, green, or yellow (it looks like soured milk)-any color will do. Watch them go into total shock when they pour the milk into their cereal or glasses.

Or consider preparing a special April Fool's Day Dinner, where nothing is quite what it appears:

Make your favourite meatloaf recipe and bake in 2 round cake pans. Frost with mashed potatoes that are the consistency of frosting. You could write "Happy April Fool's Day" on the cake with ketchup.

Prepare lemon Jell-O and pour into glasses, insert a straw and let it set up. The Jell-O is the drink and looks like lemonade (watch your kids try to suck it up a straw).

Make "fish sticks" or "French fries" from pound cake. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until crisp and golden on the edges. Raspberry or chocolate sauce can be served in opaque red plastic "ketchup bottles".

Everybody loves a well-played joke and the infectious squeals of children's laughter. So this April 1, why not try to catch your own "young fish" in a harmless prank and make it a day of family fun. Just remember ? don't leave this article on the coffee table. You wouldn't want to give your kids any good ideas.


Award-winning educator, speaker and author Rob Stringer coaches parents with his upbeat approach to learning and parenting. Explore articles, activities and learn how to create the family you desire.

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