Expressions of opposition to April Foolery, as well as predictions of its demise
"The custom of playing tricks on the first day of April is one of very general prevalence. Many persons encourage children to practice those tricks through a mistaken idea of their innocence. The object of this little book is to exhibit some of the evils of deception, even when practiced in a form so apparently harmless and so pleasing to many. It will also indicate to parents and teachers the decided opposition with which they ought to discountenance this, together with every other evil, and 'appearance of evil.' It is from such beginnings that the young too often have their morals corrupted, and their souls destroyed."
[from April Fool; or, The Evils of Deception
, printed by the Sunday-School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1852]
"This is 'all fools' day,' and judging by the number of people who are passing along the sidewalk with strings and rags dangling from their coat tails, the custom of making people appear ridiculous is not obsolete. What delight the youngsters take in covering a few bricks with an old hat, and leaving it temptingly upon the sidewalk, while they withdraw into some nook to watch the bait and halloo at the person who is thoughtless enough to kick it."
And now the cheerful idiot marches promptly to the front,
To blight his race and curse the age, as ever is his wont,
In harmless little "practicals," which mark the dismal way,
And though he spoil one's life he claims "'twas only done in play."
The first, though not the greatest fool, is he who seeks to air
And advertise his lunacy by jerking back one's chair,
Just as one's "brakes" are taken off, from ankle up to neck,
When, in the place of sitting down, one strikes the floor — a wreck.
The Yuma Sun noted that only a single New York newspaper perpetrated an April fool joke — "an Italian-language journal announcing the arrival of d'Annunzio in this country incognito." From this, it concluded that April foolishness was on the decline in America:
"Americans have an old reputation as practical jokers, but they appear to have outgrown this particular form of hoax. Have they put it aside with other childish things of an undeveloped civilization?...
At any rate, for Americans at least, April-fool jokes seem to have passed out of popular favor. They have gone the way of other frivolities of the P.T. Barnum state of Yankee civilization." [The Yuma Sun
— Apr 14, 1923]
(April Fool's Day and Easter fell on the same day in 1923, which may offer another explanation of the lack of April fools in New York papers that year.)
Fred Orsinger, self-proclaimed chairman of the Association for the Prevention of April Fool Jokes (A.F.P.O.A.F.J.), offered advice to help people avoid becoming the victims of April Fool jokes.
"The telephone joker is the most common," he warned. "I figure out he'll consume more than 8,000,000 man hours of work throughout the Nation today."
But he noted that should you see a pocket book lying on the street, it might be the setup for a standard gag, but it was nevertheless worth taking a look because "even if there is no money inside, you may get a good pocket book."
Orsinger's regular job was Director of the National Aquarium in Washington DC. [Oakland Tribune
, Apr 1, 1940.]
Saudi Arabia's chief cleric, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, issued a fatwa decreeing that April Fool's Day was a form of organized lying practiced by unbelievers, and that Muslims therefore should not participate in the tradition. Al-Sheik acknowledged that many younger Muslims were beginning to adopt the custom, but said, "It is prohibited because lying is prohibited at all times and under all conditions." He noted only three exceptions to this rule: when lying brings reconciliation between people, when it occurs during times of war, or when a husband or wife must protect the honor of the spouse.