According to legend, Peter the Great introduced the custom of April Fool's Day to Russia in 1719 (or perhaps 1718 or 1723 — sources differ) when he ordered an immense pile of wood to be erected in the open square in front of his St. Petersburg palace and then had it set on fire early in the morning of April 1. From a distance it looked as if the palace were on fire, and people rushed from miles away to help put out the blaze. They were met by troops at the edge of the square who told them, "The Little Father has fooled you. It is the first of April today." Though reportedly the fire brigade that showed up got better treatment. They were rewarded with beer and brandy.