April Fool's Day: History's Best Paranormal Pranks

85 – April Fool’s Day: History’s Best Paranormal Pranks

April Fool’s Day. Just how did we get an unofficial holiday that’s based around making the people around you look stupid?

First things first, we have an update from our Zombie Apocalypse episode, because there’s been new research that about the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii that lives in the bellies of the little feline friends. This parasite has been said to manipulate the behavior of rodents to make them run towards cats instead of away from them!

We talk about the Gizmodo article last week that discussed how toxoplasmosis could be linked to the Rage disorder, IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder.) Ever have a friend that blows up at the littlest things for no reason or that has completely unpredictable behavior that results in one or more of you spending the night in jail? It just might be the parasite. In the movie, 28 Days Later, the virus that turns people into cannibalistic monsters is called “The Rage Virus”. Coincidence?

So, April Fool’s isn’t just a Hallmark holiday, it’s been around for hundreds of years and we’re not quite sure the origin behind it. Some say that it has to do with the changing of the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian (when celebrating the New Year went from April 1st to December 31st). If you got the New Year date wrong after the change, then you were the April Fool!

There was even an April Fool’s Day prank about the origin of April Fool’s Day when a Boston University professor suggested that it came from a day when the Holy Roman Emperor decided to let a court jester rule the land for a “day of absurdity”, the only catch is that he made the whole thing up and Associated Press writers didn’t catch it for a couple of weeks. You can still find that origin floating around the Internet (of course!)

But it seems that it’s not a Western Civilization phenomenon, because they have something similar in India as well for their Huli festival and people have traced this kind of celebration all the way back to Roman times.  The  best guess is that humans have been celebrating the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years and part of that celebration of new life is playing jokes on each other.

According to the Witchology website, even though we’re not clear on the origins of April Fool’s Day, there are some superstitions behind it:

  1. Pranks are to be performed before Noon, otherwise it’s bad luck for the person doing the tricking.
  2. If you don’t respond to an April Fool’s Day prank with good humor, then it’s bad luck for the person being tricked!
  3. If you’re fooled by a pretty girl, then you’ve got a good shot at marrying her (that seems to be the “wishful thinking” rule…)
  4. Speaking of marriage, men who get married on April Fool’s Day will be ruled by their wives (that seems like a relic from a much more misogynist age)
  5. Children born on April Fool’s Day will be lucky… except for gambling!

But throughout history, people have used this time of year to pull paranormal pranks, from “discovering” the Loch Ness Monster to landing a UFO in London.

  1. The Fox Sisters – these Victorian Age preteens became world famous with their spiritualism by hoaxing (which all began as a bit of fun on April Fool’s Eve), but it’s that fame that ended up being their undoing.
  2. Virgin’s Richard Branson takes his love of ballooning to a new level as he flies a UFO-looking balloon over London, causing quite a hullabaloo in the process!
  3. An April Fool’s day prank in a small German newspaper in 1950 where they pretended to have captured a “Martian” gets discovered by Roswell researchers three decades later and ends up in the non-fiction section of the library.
  4. In 1972, a zoological expedition claims that they’ve found the Loch Ness Monster in a story that gets sensationalized writeups all over the world, only ending up being a prank pulled on them by their co-worker, who had no idea it would be one for the ages.
  5. This one’s not paranormal but it’s close to where we are (in Madison, Wisconsin) the Capital Times publishes a story on April Fool’s Day in 1933 about the dome of the capitol collapsing, angering a sensitive reader base. It’s one of the first photo manipulations that today we’d just say was an “obvious Photoshop”.
  6. This one isn’t as paranormal, but it’s brilliant. In 2014, NPR posted a story called “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore” with explicit instructions not to respond on social media because it was just a way to see who’d actually been clicking through and reading on their stories or just commenting on the headlines on Facebook. It ended up getting thousands of comments, showing that next time you see people make enflamed and angry comments on a story on social media, you better read it before checking it out yourselves. (And that’s a topic we broach in our new EP release, “American Monsters”, which is coming out THIS WEEK!)

The song this week is the Sunspot song, “Fool”. A track about being unafraid of getting your heart broken again and again. It’s better to have an open heart that is vulnerable to the evils of the world, than in the words of John Lennon, to “hide your love away”.

I’ve been hurt more times than I can count
I’ve had my head smashed in and my guts pulled out.
I’ve been cheated on, mistreated some, my heart held for ransom,
I’m the jerk, that piece of work, who just can’t figure out
that
this big bad world is cruel,
so bury your soul deep and they never can hurt you,
I know that it might be uncool, but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.
I’ve been wrong more times than you’d believe,
I’ve had my faith tested, my kindness deceived,
I’ve been betrayed and led astray and the victim of foul play,
and you might mock this laughingstock who won’t concede naivety,
because
I know this big bad world is cruel,
and if you bury your soul deep then they never can hurt you,
well I might sound just like a tool but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care about the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.

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