If it’s Friday, it must be Finland …
That’s it! I’ve decided not to write about France any more. I’m sure I’ve said more than enough about it these past few years. I don’t want to bore you. It’s time to move on.
Finland seems like an interesting and beautiful country for us to explore. I hope you’ll enjoy our change of scene as much as I will.
APRIL FOOLS! As if you hadn’t already guessed! As lovely as Finland might be, you know I’m addicted to France.
And so we’ll carry on … like this …
I never get tired of sharing scenes like this with you and I hope you feel the same way.
As I wrote in a blog post last year, April 1st is celebrated in an altogether different 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 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?
On The Good Life France (amazing photography and articles ~ you know I’m a huge fan!), there’s an article by Margo Lestz on this same topic. Margo writes great articles, as well as entertaining books about some of the quirky history and traditions of France. Click here and enjoy!