April Fool’s/Poisson d’Avril! (And the winner of My Wish List!)

If it’s Friday, it must be France … 

imagesApril 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”!

Excusez-moi? Fish?

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.”

poisson d'avril

poisson d’avril

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!

A big thank you to all of the readers who drop by here and are signing up for my newsletter! We are busy organizing a thank-you note for everyone because I can’t keep up with sending them individually! I’ve been trying, but it’s either that or write my novel! I know you understand!  See the newsletter widget in the right-hand column? Just click there! I send it once a month and there are always updates about my work,  details about what is fun and fabulous in the south of France and great giveaways. Join us!

About Patricia Sands

Family, writing and travel are my passions ... okay, and chocolate ... and I'm seldom without a camera. I write women's fiction and keep in touch with readers by a monthly newsletter that also has giveaways and contests. Come and join us by signing up on the right. See you there!


  1. I especially like the idea of having a special chocolate for April 1st. Any excuse for chocolate! 🙂

  2. I totally agree with Margo :).

  3. There is no wrong time for chocolates! Love the April Fish prank. I always avoided anyone who might try to pull a prank on me. Don’t enjoy being fooled that way but Hubs and I do play at fooling each other that day in fun ways, like fixing a crazy meal or surprising the other with a goofy trinket. Happy April Fish Day, Patricia!

    • And the same to you, Marcia! I’m not surprised you agree about the chocolate! I’m hoping someone surprises me with a luscious morsel on April 1 … Happy April Fish Day to you too!

  4. Lin Powell says:

    Woo Hoo…My Wish List winner…that’s me. How exciting. Looking forward to reading someone else’s lottery wish list. No wonder I love this blog.

    • Congratulations, Lin! It’s always fun to win something! Be sure to let me know when you receive the book and if you don’t have it soon, I will follow up for you. I love that you love my blog!

  5. I saw this the other day! Love the fish pranks and the chocolate especially!! Congrats to Lin!
    Thanks for stopping by the party! It wouldn’t be the same without you! Lots of new faces this time! Hope you have fun clicking on links and mingling with the guests!

    • Patricia Sands says:

      Your parties are the best, Susie, and it’s been very cool to meet some of your loyal followers! Great fun to see your daughter blogging now too!

  6. Popping in from Susie’s party. It’s always fun to learn how some of our “holidays” got their start. I’m here eating a bowl of “chocolate chili,” a beef chili with unsweetened cocoa powder as one of the ingredients. So when I first read about chocolate fish, I started conjuring up a fish cooked with chocolate. Glad to see I had the wrong idea.

  7. Now that’s a variety of fish that I can actually enjoy! Interesting to learn about April’s Fool’s Day. I was never a big prankster, but I do remember one April Fool’s Day when I was young, where my brothers and I switched the salt and sugar at breakfast. Dad put sugar on his egg and salt into his tea. He didn’t even notice. What we didn’t know at the time, was Dad had lost quite a bit of his sense of smell/ taste in a car accident before we were all born. Luckily, my son is not a prankster at all, and I don’t bring it up. Oh yes- Susie sent me!

  8. Ah les poissons d’Avril. I miss them!

    • Patricia Sands says:

      I miss the chocolate fish! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. Your post was so meaningful!

  9. What’s all this April Fool stuff? Some of us get ahead of the game by being foolish year-round.

  10. Congrats to your winner!

    Yeah, I pull a few April Fools pranks here and there. Usually on my parents and they want to kill me!

  11. Thanks for the explanation. I love the idea of chocolate fish!

  12. Chocolate fish – could I have mine in the form of bunnies, please.

    • Patricia Sands says:

      First the fish, then the bunnies, Sheri! There’s room for all of them. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. I love that vintage postcard. I’d heard of the “poisson d’avril” but didn’t know the whole story behind it. Leave it to the French to make chocolate a part of it.

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