April Fools' Day, the first day of April, is traditionally a time in English-speaking countries when people play absurd but harmless jokes on one another--the victim being called an April fool.
According to World Book Encyclopedia, the observance originated in France after the adoption of a reformed calendar by Charles IX in 1564. Before then, the New Year celebration began March 21 and ended April 1. When New Year's Day was changed to Jan. 1, some people still celebrated April 1. These people came to be known as April fools.
The custom, widespread in England by the 1600s, was taken to America by the British. It has continued to be observed and sometimes involves rather elaborate hoaxes as well as simple jokes.
Here are some responses to this week's hot topic: "What is the best April Fools' Day joke you've ever pulled?"
"When I was in fifth grade, my friend and I propped up a bucket of ice above the door to a classroom and tied it there with a string. When our teacher walked in the room, she got completely soaked."
--John Bergagni, 17, junior, Corona del Mar
"I woke my older sister, Anna, up in the morning by saying, 'The house is on fire!' and she fell for it."
--Amy Park, 16, junior, Cypress
"My dad was going to make this big breakfast. I poked holes in the eggs, blew out the yoke and filled them with rubber cement. He kept pounding them on the counter but couldn't understand why they wouldn't break. I also filled the pancake mix box with dirt and put baking soda in the sugar canister."
--Scott Sebbo, sophomore, 15, El Toro
"(It was) right before breakfast, down at church camp in San Juan Capistrano, and the counselors were out getting showers. A couple of us got up early and ran to the showers and started screaming, 'Fire drill!' As soon as we yelled that, we took everybody's clothes, and they all ran down the hill in their bare nothings. One guy had just enough towel to barely cover him, another still had shampoo in his hair. It was 40 degrees and they actually believed us."
--Jeff Young, 17, senior, Esperanza
"I told a guy who asked what day it was that it was two days later. He believed me and was convinced for a couple of hours that we were going to have a test in fifth period."
--David Ashcraft, 18, senior, Laguna Hills
"One time I went to an auto shop where my friend's car was being worked on. I paid the guy $10 to call my friend and tell her that her car had been stolen. She was so relieved when I told her it was an April Fools' joke."
--Amy Sebelius, 17, junior, Liberty Christian
"This April Fools' joke didn't actually happen to me but happened to a friend of mine. Three of his friends took him out to dinner. When they got to the restaurant, the bill came. All three of the guys who had taken my friend out said that someone else was going to pay for the bill and no one had any money. My friend, Eric, was quite surprised. Actually, the three guys had paid the bill but they informed Eric that they would have to dine and ditch. So they got out. They ran out of the restaurant and got in the car and the guys said the waitress was chasing after them, but then they said, 'April Fools!' "
--Amy Holzang, 17, senior, Los Alamitos
"I put honey in my mom's shampoo once."
--Mark-Erak Momar, 17, senior, Los Alamitos
"I think the best April Fools' joke that I ever played was when I filled a Coke can up about three-fourths filled with Tabasco sauce and one-fourth Coke; I gave it to a really thirsty friend on a very hot April Fools' Day."
--Ewan Morrison, junior, San Clemente
"This may sound corny, but I think my most memorable joke was in the second grade. My friends and I hid before class and when the teacher came in, she honestly thought she had but one student in her class that day. What can I say? When you're little, even the smallest things seem hilarious."
--Leslie Martin, senior, San Clemente
"Me and my friends were at an ice-skating rink on April Fools' Day, and I pretended to hit the wall and hit my head and then I fell over. I just laid there and then my friends crowded around me and I jumped and scared the heck out of them. I got in trouble for it, but it was worth it."
--Tammy McAbee, 16, junior, Sonora
"The best April Fools' joke I played on my friend was when I set him up for a blind date. I was all excited about it. When we got there, they (the girls) both stayed with me the whole time. After awhile, I gave one to him, his real date. That night we had a good laugh about it."
--George Sneider, 18, senior, Sonora
"I told my ex-girlfriend over the phone that I was a police sergeant. I called her at work and asked if I could speak to her. She came to the phone and I said, "Do you know a Peter Rodriguez? 'Yes,' she said. I said, 'We have him under arrest for hit and run. Apparently he hit a 12-year-old kid and took off, so we arrested him.' And then I said, 'April Fools.' "
--Peter Rodriguez, 18, senior, Sonora