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6 Prank Days from Around the World

Playing practical jokes on your friends and colleagues is something that has universal appeal. Other countries might not call their nationally acknowledged day of pranks April Fool’s Day—or even celebrate it on April 1st—but the idea is still the same. Here are six hijinks-filled holidays from around the globe. 

1. Poisson d’Avril // France

The most widely believed origin story for the American April Fool’s Day places the holiday’s start in France. In 1564, King Charles IX observed that various regions of France started their calendars on different days, often March 25th. To standardize his nation, he mandated that the new year would start on January 1st for the entire country. If the news of this change didn’t reach you in time, you might still have been celebrating the week leading up to April as the start of the new year—leaving you vulnerable to mocking by those in the know. The most popular prank, in the 16th century and now, is to stick a paper fish on someone’s back, rendering him an “April Fish” (hence the holiday’s French name). A version of the holiday is also celebrated in Italy, where it is known as Il Pesce d’Aprile.

But recent research has found a Dutch poem from 1561 (three years before the calendar change) that describes a master sending his servant on a “fool’s errand” on April 1st, indicating that the practice might be older than originally believed.

2. Huntigowk Day and Taily Day // Scotland 

In Scotland, the start of April is marked by not one, but two days of prank-pulling and foolery. To “hunt the gowk”—a gowk being a “cuckoo,” or gullible person—you send your friend on a mission to deliver a sealed letter. When the recipient opens it, they will find a note saying “Dinna laugh, Dinna smile. Hunt the gowk another mile.” The recipient then sends the poor messenger to deliver the note to someone else.

In some parts of Scotland, Huntigowk Day is followed by Taily Day, when pranks are focused on the posterior. The challenge was to pin a piece of paper to someone else’s backside, sometimes with phrases such as “Kick me hard for I am soft.” This is possibly the origin of the classic “Kick Me” sign. And on April 3rd in Kirkcaldy, they used to then try and pin on a long tail, which they would then set on fire.

3. Sizdah Bedar // Iran 

This traditional Persian festival is celebrated on the 13th day of Farvardin, the first month in the Iranian calendar, which generally falls on April 1st or 2nd. The holiday marks the end of Nowruz, a festival celebrating the beginning of spring.  On Sizdah Bedar, families spend the day out of doors picnicking and playing games, and throw sabzeh, green sprouts or vegetables, into lakes or rivers to rid oneself of potential illnesses or bad luck for the coming year. Although not the primary focus of the holiday, people pull pranks and tell white lies known as “thirteenth lies” on this day, which might earn Sizdah Bedar the distinction of being the oldest prank tradition in the world. They proliferation of joke-playing on Sizdah Bedar could also have stemmed from the holiday’s extreme calendar proximity and pretty close cultural proximity to April Fool’s Day.

4. Maj-kat // Denmark 

The Danes double down on their practical joking each year. Not only do they celebrate April Fool’s Day on April 1 just like we do in the States, they also have an identical holiday just a month later. May 1 is known as Maj-kat, and it is celebrated just as April Fool’s Day is, with pranks and practical jokes.

5. Holy Innocents’ Day or Childermas // Spain and Latin America 

Celebrated on December 28, this traditionally Christian holiday has grim origins: It’s meant to commemorate the day King Herod learned of Jesus’s birth and ordered all the baby boys in Bethlehem to be killed. Despite that grizzly genesis, the holiday is now celebrated much like April Fool’s. Young children rule the day, playing pranks on their elders and calling out “Innocente!” instead of “April Fool’s!” 

6. Holi Festival // India 

This Hindu festival marking the coming of spring, held in late March, is characterized by an abundance of color. Participants sing and dance while tossing colored powder and water onto one another. Holi honors the god Krishna, who was renowned as a youngster for his mischievous pranks, so revelers add to Holi’s general merriment by reenacting some of his more famous pranks.

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iStock
5 Strange News Stories From This Week
iStock
iStock

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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Game Show Network
Test Your Wits with 8 Brainteasers from Idiotest: Round 2
Game Show Network
Game Show Network

We bet you think you’re pretty smart (and if you’ve found your way to mental_floss, you probably are!). But common sense questions and brain-teasing puzzles can challenge even those with the highest IQs. You may be an egghead—but are you an idiot?

Test your brainpower with eight more puzzles from Game Show Network’s Idiotest (you can find the first eight here). The rules are easy: Read the question in each picture puzzle, and select the image you think best answers the question. Limit yourself to just 30 seconds for each picture—speed is part of the challenge! Click the link at the bottom of the page for the solutions and explanations.

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Click here to see how you did!

Look sharp! Feed your brain every Wednesday by watching Idiotest’s all-new season at 8/7c on Game Show Network.

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