On the evening of April 1, 1957, thousands of British families tuned in to watch Panorama—one of the day’s top current events broadcasts—to witness footage of a happy Swiss family harvesting their prized spaghetti trees. Unbeknownst to many viewers, the four-minute “news” segment, which literally showed strands of cooked pasta dangling from the trees in a family vineyard, was an intricate April Fool’s Day hoax devised by a freelance cameraman and produced for a paltry 100 pounds.

1957年4月1日晚上,千万英国家庭正在收看《广角镜》电视节目——当时最热门的时事节目之一——他们共同见证了瑞士的一家人兴奋地收获他们珍贵的意大利面树的画面。新闻转播给人们看在一个家庭葡萄园里,真的有一股股熟意大利面挂在树枝上。而许多观众不知情的是,这个四分钟的 "新闻" 片段实际上是一个错综复杂的愚人节恶作剧。它由一个自由摄影师设计,制作成本仅为100英镑。

Forget the hundreds of angry letters and bitter newspaper headlines that followed—the show’s staff was “very pleased with [themselves],” having successfully elevated the centuries-old tradition of punking April fools to a mass-media high.


There’s no question that April Fool’s Day is one of the most widely recognized non-religious holidays in the Western world. Children prank parents, coworkers prank coworkers , and yes, national news outlets still prank their readers. But why? How did April Fool’s Day begin, and how did it become an international phenomenon? The totally-legit, not-pulling-your-leg answer is: Nobody really knows. April Fool’s Day is apparently an ancient enough tradition that the earliest recorded mentions, like the following excerpt from a 1708 letter to Britain’s Apollomagazine , ask the same question we do: “Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools?”

毫无疑问,愚人节是西方世界最受广泛认同的非宗教节日之一。 孩子们会捉弄父母,同事之间会进行恶作剧,没错,甚至连国家级的新闻机构都会和他们的读者开玩笑。 但为什么? 愚人节是如何开始的?又是如何成为一个国际现象的? 一个完全说得通且一点都不夸张的解释就是:并没有人真正知道。很明显,愚人节的确是一个古老的传统,它最早的书面记录出自于1708年写给英国《阿波罗》艺术杂志的一封信中,摘录如下,其中也提出了同样的疑问:“愚人节捉弄人的习俗是从哪里开始?”

One likely predecessor is the Roman tradition of Hilaria, a spring festival held around March 25 in honor of the first day of the year longer than the night (we call this the vernal equinox, which typically falls on March 20). Festivities included games, processions, and masquerades, during which disguised commoners could imitate nobility to devious ends.

而愚人节的前身很可能来自于罗马嬉乐节的一个传统。嬉乐节是一个在3月25日左右举行的春日庆典,以纪念一年中第一个白天比晚上更长的日子(我们称之为春分,通常是3月20日)。 这个节日的庆祝活动包括各类游戏、游行和化妆舞会等。在此期间,一些狡猾的平民可以乔装打扮,模仿贵族。

It’s hard to say whether this ancient revel’s similarities to modern April Fool’s Day are legit or coincidence, as the first recorded mentions of the holiday didn’t appear until several hundred years later. In 1561, for example, a Flemish poet wrote some comical verse about a nobleman who sends his servant back and forth on ludicrous errands in preparation for a wedding feast (the poem’s title roughly translates to “Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April”). The first mention of April Fool’s Day in Britain comes in 1686, when biographer John Aubrey described April first as a “Fooles holy day.”

很难说这种古代狂欢形式与现代愚人节的相似之处是有所关联还是纯属巧合,因为第一次提到该节日的记录直到几百年后才出现。 例如,在1561年,一位佛兰德地区的诗人曾写下了一些滑稽的诗句,讲述了一位贵族为了筹备婚礼宴席,让自己的仆人来回跑腿,场面十分滑稽(这首诗的标题大致翻译为“反复唠叨的跑腿日/这一天是四月一号”)。 愚人节第一次在英国被提及是在1686年,当时的传记作者约翰·奥布里最先将四月描述为“愚人们的圣日”。

It’s clear that the habit of sending springtime rubes on a “fool’s errand” was rampant in Europe by the late 1600s. On April Fool’s Day, 1698, so many saps were tricked into schlepping to the Tower of London to watch the “washing of the lions” (a ceremony that doesn’t exist) that the April 2 edition of a local newspaper had to debunk the hoax —and publicly mock the schmoes who fell for it.

很明显,17世纪末期的欧洲地区,这种在春天的时侯差遣乡下人去做“傻瓜差事”的做法十分盛行。 在1698年的愚人节当天时,许多傻瓜被骗到伦敦塔去观看“洗狮子”活动(这是一种不存在的仪式)。事态一度严重到4月2日的当地报纸不得不揭发这个骗局 ——并且公开嘲笑那些信以为真的笨蛋们。

From there, it’s a pretty straight line between lion washing and spaghetti farming. And while we may not know how it started, it’s clear April Fool’s Day speaks to the inner jerk in so much of humanity, and is therefore here to stay.