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March 2013
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Lisbon Live

April Fools’ Day

March 21, 2013

From our Guest writer: Christine Rola, with help from other members, of International Women in Portugal


April Fools’ Day, in Portuguese “Dia da Mentira”, and in the Azores known as “Dia das Petas” is celebrated on April 1st. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1st is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. It is a day loved by children who enjoy trying to make others an April Fool. The joke has to be played before midday or the joker becomes the fool. Another bonus is there are no presents to buy or cards to be sent and no one will be upset if you forget them, in fact they might be quite pleased.

An IWP French member tells us French children draw fish on a piece of paper, cut them out and stick them on as many people’s backs (adults preferably) as they can and run away yelling “poisson d’avril”. Italy has the same tradition and they shout “pesce d’aprile”!

Sending someone on a “fool’s errand,” is classic trick, looking for things that don’t exist. For example, one might have been asked to go out and obtain a copy of “The History of Adam’s Grandfather,” or bring back some “sweet vinegar” or a “left handed screwdriver.”

A Scottish member sent the following example of an April Fools trick. “ My sister and I were still staying at home with our parents. They were away – my sister didn’t have college that morning and I had set my alarm to get up for work. I got ready, and was on my way out of the door when she called out “April Fool.” I was an hour early and she had changed all the clocks in the house including mine. “

Newspapers and the Media are famous for trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.

Back in 1957, on April Fools’ Day, the respected British news television program Panorama reported on “A bumper spaghetti harvest” in southern Switzerland. The bountiful crop could be attributed to the mild preceding winter and the disappearance of the nasty spaghetti weevil. After the broadcast, hundreds of people called the BBC, wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti trees. The BBC replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” You can see this amusing recording on “You Tube.”

1998 Burger King, unveiled the “left-handed Whopper” – a normal burger, with “the condiments rotated 180 degrees”, It fooled thousands in the US and UK with left-handers going out of their way to order one, and righties making it clear they’d preferred the original version.

An unexpected hoax was in 2001, when a competitive fishing competition was scheduled for April 1st on Lake Palestine in Texas, animal rights group Peta decided to have some fun. The organisation promised to disrupt the event by dissolving sleeping pills into the 40bn-gallon lake, thus knocking out all the fish for the day and sparing them the anglers’ hooks… Local newspapers took the threat seriously (complaining of “borderline terroristic methods”)

I am sure you can think of other great pranks and be careful what you believe on 1st April. 


P.S. Of course you can’t grow Spaghetti in Switzerland because of the cold winters, but we have had great success this year with our tree. (see picture). The milder climate in Portugal is ideal for growing Spaghetti.

Chris’ Spaghetti Tree







by The Lisbon Live Team. Find out more about The Lisbon Live Team here.

Categories: General Interest