In many countries April begins with April Fool’s Day. Do you indulge? For those who haven’t heard before, you may be interested in knowing how April 1st is celebrated in an altogether unique way in France.
Imagine my surprise the first time I saw children sticking paper fish on each other’s 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 often falls around the same time, fish feature predominantly in shop windows through that holiday as well.
On The Good Life France (amazing photography and articles ~ you know I’m a huge fan!), there’s another article by Margo Lestz about April 1st in France. Margo writes perfectly-researched articles, as well as entertaining books about some of the quirky history and traditions of France. Click here to visit her website!
Whether you celebrate April Fool’s Day or not, I think we all feel some relief in the Northern Hemisphere that April truly heralds the arrival of spring. Although, as we know, Mother Nature often likes to fool us with a few random snow storms in some areas.
While I’m on the blog, I’ll leave you with this … NOT an April Fool’s joke. A Season of Surprises, Book Two in the Villa des Violettes series is on sale for just $1.99 and it’s a great way to celebrate spring! Click here for your copy.
I love how readers tell me they feel they are right there in the pages of the story! That’s my hope when I write them. Guess what? You can be there! If you are longing to be in the south of France in person to stroll the streets of my stories with me and my bff, Deborah Bine aka #barefootblogger_france, grab one of the few remaining spots on our 12-day September Memories Tour! ✈️Sept 19 – Oct 1 ✈️ Happiness and joie de vivre guaranteed! 💕🇫🇷💕🇫🇷💕🇫🇷💕 #bookclubs receive free books 💕📚💕📚💕 At the moment there are a few spots remaining but they won’t last long. Click on this link for all the details!
THIS COULD BE YOU IN SEPTEMBER!