April Fools’ Day: International Students’ Chance to Play Tricks

People might use visual tricks to fool their friends – like this one at the Trick Eye Museum in Singapore, which makes it look like the man is sky diving when the photo is inverted (Reuters).

Happy April Fool’s Day! Even though it is not an official holiday like Valentine’s Day, April Fools’ Day is celebrated with pranks and tricks every April 1 in the United States.

The holiday began during the switch to the Gregorian calendar, which considers April 1 as the first day of the year. When the calendar was first implemented, some people refused to think that the first day of the year was April 1, so the day became one to play tricks on unsuspecting victims – hence the name April Fools.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in different ways throughout the world; but, the main purpose in the United States is carrying out hilariously harmless pranks on friends for fun. Many international students have celebrated in their home countries, and are looking forward to playing tricks on their new friends in the U.S.

“I celebrated April Fool’s Day when I was in high school in Korea,” said Ji-Yoon Lee, a student at George Washington University. “We played fun jokes on teachers.”

But while international students may also celebrate the holiday, they may embrace a different style of joke than American students because of their different culture.

In Korea, Lee’s classroom in Korea was separated by gender, giving boys and girls an opportunity to prank each other on April Fool’s Day – and prank their teachers. One year, Lee says, the boys and girls changed classrooms to confuse their teachers. Another year, they swapped clothes.

Ser Jamil Aslam, an international student at Georgetown University, also fondly remembers celebrating April Fool’s Day in Pakistan.

“We pretend that we had an exam…on April Fool’s Day,” and then told friends that they had forgotten to study, Aslam said.

Other countries around the world have different April Fools’ Day traditions. In France, the holiday is known as Poisson d’Avril, which translates to April Fish. In India, rather than April Fool’s Day, people celebrate Holi, a festival on March 31 where people play jokes, toss colored dust on to others, and wear face and body paint.

Jeonghyun Kim is a VOA intern for the English web desk. She is from South Korea, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Professional Studies in Journalism at Georgetown University

Jeonghyun Kim