GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — If stereotypes were true, Germans wouldn’t have a sense of humor. Fortunately, those of us living in Bavaria know that’s false.
Case in point: April Fools’ Day, or Aprilscherz in German.
The Germans have a long tradition of joking on a personal and even national scale on April Fools’ Day.
And, if legend is to be believed, the holiday got its start in Bavaria.
In 1530, lawmakers were to gather in Augsburg to unify the state coinage on April 1. Anticipating the meeting, dishonest speculators began to unlawfully trade currencies to make a quick buck.
Their insiders’ trading backfired, however, when the lawmakers’ meeting never took place. Since the coins were never unified, speculators lost their money and were ridiculed for their failed trickery, making them the first April fools.
To emerge from April Fools’ Day in Bavaria without egg on your face, proceed with caution.
Don’t believe everything you read or hear today, even the news.
It’s a tradition for German newspapers to run fake news articles on April Fools, some of which have caused quite a stir.
One famous example was when Die Welt, a national paper, reported in 1996, that Lufthansa airline would begin an in-flight dating service. Compatible singles who opted into the service would be seated next to each other with the hope that love would bloom.
Outraged citizens who missed out on the joke deemed the airline “Lust-hansa.”
Local Bavarians will play small tricks and pranks on friends and coworkers on Aprilscherz as well. The tomfoolery will typically be followed by shouts of “April! April!” so you’ll know when you’ve been had.
Happy pranking, Bavaria!