Auspicious Day

April 1, 1976: During an early-morning interview on BBC Radio, the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that at 9:47am that day a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur. Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, and this planetary alignment would temporarily counteract and lessen the Earth’s own gravity.

Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment the alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47am arrived, the station began receiving hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman reported that she and her friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room.

Moore had intended his announcement to be a spoof of a pseudoscientific theory that had recently been promoted in a book called The Jupiter Effect, alleging that a rare alignment of the planets was going to cause massive earthquakes and the destruction of Los Angeles in 1982.

The first one:

April 1, 1698: The earliest known record of an April Fool’s Day prank, as reported in Dawks’s News-Letter the following day: “Several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed.”

The joke was that there were no lions being washed in the Ditch – or moat – of the Tower of London. It was a fool’s errand.

For well over a century after this, the prank of sending unsuspecting victims to see the “washing of the lions” at the Tower of London remained a favorite April Fool’s Day joke. In the mid-nineteenth century, pranksters even printed up official-looking tickets that they distributed around London on April first, promising admittance to the non-existent ‘annual lion-washing ceremony’.

April Fool Lions_2

Anyone saying the worst April Fool joke ever was in 1955: Ha! Ha! I’ve heard that one before.

And I’ve been caught outmore than once. And sometimes forgotten.


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