FOLLOWING hot on the heels of the tech giant Microsoft banning April Fools’ Day pranks by staff Spain has issued a Royal Decree banning English media operating in Spain from publishing their traditional spoof stories today.
It is understood that the Spanish government’s dramatic last-minute action is a further attempt to preserve the country’s traditions that have been slowly eroded by expats over the years.
Spain does not – and never has – marked April Fools’ Day but instead celebrates a similar prank day the ‘Día de los Santos Inocentes’ on December 28, as does much of Latin America and the Philippines.
And it is believed that the government action is aimed at getting expats to mark that date instead of April.
The Euro Weekly News has reluctantly decided to comply with the Royal Decree this year and will not be publishing any spoof stories although we do plan to challenge the ruling ahead of next year.
The UK media has traditionally got into the fooling act on April 1 with probably the best known being Richard Dimbleby’s ‘news report’ about the spaghetti harvest broadcast in 1957 on BBC’s Panorama. More than 250 viewers reportedly jammed the BBC switchboard after the hoax aired, most of them calling in with serious enquiries about the piece — where could they go to watch the harvesting operation? Could they buy spaghetti plants themselves?
The exact origins of April Fools’ Day remain shrouded in mystery.
Wherever and whenever the custom began, it has since evolved its own lore and set of unofficial rules.
Superstition has it that the pranking period expires at noon and any jokes attempted after that time will lead to bad luck for the perpetrator. Additionally, those who fail to respond with good humour to tricks played upon them are said to attract bad luck to themselves.
In Scotland, an April fool is called an April “gowk” — Scottish for cuckoo, an emblem of simpletons. While in England, a fool is called a gob, gawby or gobby. In France, the victim of a hoax is called a “poisson d’avril,” an April fish – a young fish, thus one easily caught.