2018 Mar 31
Ah April Fools’ Day, thou art an unpredictable phenomenon that no one particularly likes but celebrates anyway – much like the government or the Gangam Style. Every April 1st, schools, universities, and work places are overcome by the eccentric yet oddly familiar tradition of everyone pulling pranks on one another and the exasperated “don’t be immature, men” that follows soon after. But do you ever wonder how this age-old holiday blossomed into existence and gained so much popularity? Well you aren’t the only one. Though April Fools’ Day is the most popular non-religious holiday celebrated in modern society, the question “but why?” has been asked since the early 1700s, as seen in a letter written to Britain’s Apollo Magazine that asks “Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?”. Well the answer is: no one knows! There are a myriad of different theories, but no one knows for sure when, how, why, or where this mess originated from.
Some believe it began from the Greco-Roman tradition of Hilaria which honored Cybele, an ancient Greek Mother of Gods, and was celebrated with parades, masquerades and commoners making fun of nobility. Others believe it stems from the time in which the Christian world switched from the Julian calendar (which celebrated its new year on the 1st of April) to the Gregorian calendar (which now celebrates the new year on January 1st) causing people to be fooled by the new date, making the April new year evolve into a day of laughter, jokes and pranks.
So now that you know a little bit more about the origins of the holiday (or not), here are a few of the greatest pranks involving Sri Lanka that have been pulled over the years:
April 1st of 2017 saw the website of Sri Lanka’s renowned Island newspaper run an article on the return of the ever-loved Kumar Sangakkara to play the days third ODI against Bangladesh. The article claimed that it was an act of desperation by Sanath Jayasuriya, chairman of selectors, who managed to convince the then-two-year-retired legend to return to the fold. Of course, we Lankans were bitter when we eventually found out that the whole thing was a hoax and now nothing will ever mend our broken hearts again.
Doomsday in 2011
Us Lankans get mad excited when there is a mention of our sunny little island in any sort of foreign context but something we may not have heard of is that way back in 1977, The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom published a 17 page feature on the “Beautiful Island of San Serriffe” and claimed that the island will eventually collide with Sri Lanka in 2011 as it is being moved by the tides. Great thing that this too was an April Fools’ Day joke, though, because I hear island collisions are pretty unfortunate.
Google Treasure Maps
On April 1st in 2018, Google joined in on the April Fools’ pranks by enabling a feature on maps titled Treasure Maps, which used a spyglass to zoom in for Street View, with a rounded telescopic frame and old-school filter. Google then explained that the map belonged to infamous pirate William “Captain” Kidd, and was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean while the team was expanding their underwater Street View collection. Users were invited to help crack the code and find the treasure with hidden clues. The tiny island of Sri Lanka was part of this great prank, with treasure that could be located in Nuwara Eliya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and more!
The Mawbima and Ceylon Today newspapers of Aril 1st 2013 carried the story that Jayalalitha – Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and not the biggest fan of Sri Lanka – was to arrive in the country later that day to address the public at Galle Face and meet politicians. The motives of the article are unclear but the papers later confessed that it was just a prank being pulled on the public.
Of course there are a dozen other jokes worthy of mentioning like the new Spider Man movie, fidget spinners or the state of our economy, but I suppose that’s an article for another day. So until then folks, stay safe and happy pranking!