April Fool's Day in China

  • Celebrated: Apr. 1 

愚人乐! (Yuren Jie kuaile!) Happy April Fool's!

April Fool’s Day (愚人节, Yuren Jie, literally: 'foolish man festival') is a day for fun and jokes that is catching on in China. Pranks include tricking people with fake news, scaring them, or sticking signs on people without their knowing that they are wearing it. It started in Europe more than 500 years ago, and it was originally a Western day for jokes and pranks. Now people in Hong Kong and China also engage in the fun.

April Fools in Hong Kong

On April 1st every year in the Western world and in many Eastern countries, people often make jokes, hoaxes, and have fun. Because of British influence, the custom is observed in Hong Kong. In China, some kids play pranks on each other partly because they are taught about it by the many foreign teachers.

A famous April Fool's hoax in Hong Kong in 2003 was a report put on a site by a student that so many people were infected with SARS that Hong Kong was quarantined, the ports were closed so that no one could enter or leave Hong Kong, and Tung Chee Hwa who was the Chief Executive of Hong Kong had resigned. Hong Kong’s supermarkets were overwhelmed with panicking people trying to stock food for the crisis.

April Fools on the Mainland

In China, school kids starting playing April fools jokes in the 1990s. Foreign teachers would play jokes on the kids on April Fool's, and many Chinese kids followed suit and took up the fun. Nowadays, it is mainly kids in schools and the younger generation playing such games. But the older generations generally don't. But the day is known widely enough so that sometimes newspapers and websites will run fake news reports to surprise and shock people.

However, sometimes, even leading news editors seem unaware of the Western pranks. For example, recently CCTV, China's TV network, ran a British April Fool's joke as real news. An airline in Britain announced that they would start a glass-bottomed plane service, and CCTV ran it as odd — but real — news. They also posted the news report on their website, and it was up for a couple of days.

Further Reading

Other Western festivals that are catching on in China, but only celebrated by a minority, are linked below.

Hi, I'm Gavin Van Hinsbergh
I updated this article on February 26, 2014
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