Huntigowk is a Scottish holiday celebrated on the first day of April each year. Its characteristics, similar to that of other regions' April first traditions, include playing practical jokes on one another and general trickery, such as sending someone on a "gowk's errand". In the case of Huntigowk, the tomfoolery traditionally only goes on until around noon. While the name itself comes from an old trick, in modern times, "Huntigowk!" (much like "April Fools!") is exclaimed by a trickster when their prank's spoils become apparent, such as when a carefully placed bar of wet soap sends someone sliding ungracefully across linoleum.
The term 'Huntigowk' has a literal meaning similar to a 'wild goose chase', as the gowk is a type of European cuckoo. The name of the holiday is derived from a classic Scottish trick where a person is sent out with a note with the Scots phrase "Dinna laugh, an' dinna smile,
but hunt the gowk anither mile." and told to take it to (Insert Scottish-ish name here) down the road. He's then told by the first recipient to take it to another person, then told by that person to take it to another, and so on. A good illustration of this is found in this story based on characters created by English author, J. K. Rowling:
'I have a note here,' Harry said. 'Your cousin wrote it, and no one seems to be able to help - not Natalie McDonald, not Ernie MacMillan, not Morag McDougall, not even Professor McGonagall. Professor McGonagall sent me with this note to you.'
'Hmm... let's look at it,' Mortie said, took the note, read it and laughed. He showed it to Harry. It ran:
'Dinna lauch an' dinna smile, but hunt the gowk another mile.'
Mortie said: 'From Scots it translates to: 'Do not laugh and do not smile, but send the fool another mile!'
'Of course! It's April 1 today!' Harry said. 'All Fools' Day!'
'Yes,' Mortie smiled. 'But we Scottish - I'm half-Scottish, you know - call it the Huntigowk Day. A gowk is a cuckoo, but also a fool, and we Scottish sent people on a gowk's errand, giving them a note like this. Of course, the recipient has to be Scottish to understand the note and to play along with the gowk's errand. It is the favorite practical joke in Scotland on April 1.'
'McDonald...MacMillan...McDougall...McGonagall...' Harry said.
'Yes. All ancient Scottish names,' Mortie said. 'Of course, McGonagall had mercy on you and sent you to me. You have walked enough.'
Other areas celebrate April Fools', All Fools' Day, or Poisson d'Avril on this day. This day is also Youth Day in Benin, Flag Day in Mauritania and Saint Lasarus' Day in Bulgaria. Some nations, like Spain, celebrate their tricky Huntigowk equivalents on other days, such as Spain's Innocent Saints' Day on December 28th. Others still, such as several European countries as well as Australia, practice the "Pinch, Punch, First of the Month" tradition, which more indiscriminantly uses the date as an excuse to abuse our fellow man. Disclaimer: Practicing any of these traditions outside of the regions familiar with them could potentially result in embarrassment and/or lawsuits.
Another reasonably well known Scottish pranking tradition is the wild and hairy haggis hunt, which is a sort of specialized Scottish version of a snipe hunt that targets gullible tourists to Scotland's hills (or other such morons).
Quoted passage is an excerpt from "The Huntigowk Day" found at http://www.riddikulus.org/authors/gryffindortower/HD.html, written by user GryffindorTower