If it’s Friday, it must be France …
April Fool’s day is almost here. Imagine my surprise the first time I was in France on April 1st and found children sticking paper fish on my back, whispering and giggling and then hollering “Poisson d’Avril”!
As Wikipedia explains: “In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.
I had no idea where the tradition began and, after a bit of searching, found this explanation on France Travel Guide.
“Although the origin of April Fools is obscure and debated, the most widely accepted explanation actually credits the “holiday” as starting in France. The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.
The theory goes like this: In 1564 King Charles XIV of France reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. However, in a time without trains, a reliable post system or the internet, news often traveled slow and the uneducated, lower class people in rural France were the last to hear of and accept the new calendar. Those who failed to keep up with the change or who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.”
Boulangeries and patisseries deliciously get into the spirit with fish-shaped goodies. Oh … and did I mention the chocolatiers? Schools of fish of all sizes fill shop windows, the larger ones often filled with smaller treats. To a chocoholic, fish never tasted so good!
Since Easter usually falls around the same time, fish feature predominantly in shop windows through that holiday as well.
Maybe we should adopt a symbol for April Fool’s Day in North America, so there would be a good excuse to buy special chocolates on that day over here. Not that we ever really need an excuse for chocolate …
Wherever you are, have fun on April 1st and enjoy some chocolate.
Are you a prankster on April 1st or do you just grit your teeth and hope the day will pass quickly? Is there one April Fool’s Day joke in particular that you will never forget?
A Saturday morning P.S. ~ I just found time to check into The Good Life France fabulous website (amazing photography and articles ~ I’m a huge fan!)and there was an article by Margo Lestz on this same topic. ‘Tis the season! Margo writes great articles and always has something new to teach me about life in France. Click here and enjoy!
And now for some news that has nothing to do with April 1st and is most definitely not a prank! According to random.org, the winner of the giveaway copy of MY WISH LIST, as reviewed in last Friday’s post, is LIN POWELL. Congratulations! I will be in touch with details, Lin, and am sure you will enjoy the story!
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