April Fish

April Fish! April Fish!

April 1 is celebrated as April Fool's Day in the US.   Did you know though, that in France and other Francophone countries, they celebrate Poisson d'Avril (translated best as April FISH!) on April 1??  

In many countries, the first day of April is a day to play harmless jokes on family and friends. This usually consists of telling a far-fetched story in such a way that it sounds like it could be true. When the other person falls for our joke, we exclaim, “April fool!” and have a laugh.

In France, they play the same sort of jokes, but instead of saying “April fool!” they say, “poisson d’Avril!” which translates into “April fish!”  

The favorite “April fish” joke among French children is to tape a paper fish to someone’s back without them knowing it. To find out why these jokes are called April fish, we have to go back to 1564 to the time of Charles IX.  

Up until this time, the New Year in France and around the world was celebrated in the spring but there was no fixed date. It could be at different times, but in most places, the New Year began at the end of March or the first of April. This was a time when people would bring out their spring clothing, get all dressed up, and go out into fields to celebrate the reawakening of nature – the start of a brand new year. It was customary during these festivities to exchange small gifts, usually food and often fish.