If you think April Fool’s Day is just a British thing, think again. The day of pranks and laughter is celebrated in many countries across the world and Russia is no exception. The day has officially been recognised in the country since Peter the Great’s time. People then would dress in masks and fancy costumes and make lots of noise to scare away winter.
Contrary to some perceptions, Russians have a great sense of fun and love playing jokes on each other. It’s a day to laugh with friends and family and then head off to the circus or a comedy show in the evening. Unlike in the UK, there’s no noon cut-off; jokes are played all day long. There have been some impressive Russian April Fool’s pranks over the last few decades; here are some of the best.
1988: Diego Maradona to join a Soviet soccer team
Reported by serious Soviet newspaper Izvestia, the diminutive Argentinian was to play for Moscow Spartak and an offer of $6 million was on the table. This would have been a major coup as he was a global superstar at the time. Alas it was a hoax and he remained in Italy playing for Napoli.
1992: a new metro for Moscow
Moscow’s ornate and much-loved metro was apparently going to face some competition as it was revealed that a new metro system was to be built in the city. Eagle-eyed readers weren’t fooled, however: the Russian newspaper Moskovskaya Pravda made its announcement in a special March 32nd edition titled Moskovskaya Nye-Pravda – which translates as the “Moscow Untruth”.
1994: a cure for baldness
Mikhail Gorbachev’s famous birthmark looked set to be history as it was reported that he had volunteered to test a new anti-baldness spray. The Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets printed a picture of the Russian leader with a full head of thick curly hair to prove the spray worked.
2009: a nuclear-proof limo for the President
The Moscow Times managed to fool several international news agencies with its claims that a new limousine had been commissioned for President Medvedev with windows that could withstand a grenade attack and wheels that converted to caterpillar tracks when going over rough ground. The fanciful claim that the supercar would withstand a nuclear attack was qualified by saying it would only be the case if the wind was blowing in the right direction.
Now aren’t you intrigued what’s going to come up this Friday?