Poisson d’Avril or April Fool’s Day in France
The exact origins of April Fool’s Day is still in debate, but it is often linked to the move of New Year from April to January in the sixteenth century. The change in France was made by King Charles XIV in 1564, but with the speed of communications slow, not everyone knew about the change
The new calendar moved the start of the New Year from 1st April to 1st January. The theory goes that along with those that did not know about the change other people refused to accept the new calendar and continued to celebrate the New Year on 1st April. The reformists using the new calendar called these people April Fools and played tricks on them.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with this explanation. April Fool’s Day was already celebrated in numerous countries before the change of the calendar, including Britain, plus accounts of Romans celebrating the coming of Spring with games and practical jokes.
Britain’s most famous April Fool joke is probably one shown by the BBC about the spaghetti harvest in 1957. Factual program Panorama, presented by Richard Dimbleby, ran a story about the bumper spaghetti crop in Switzerland including pictures of “spaghetti trees”! There was a mixed reaction with some not seeing the funny side!
In France, the day is known as Poisson d’Avril or April Fish. Again the origins are unclear, but may be linked to the zodiac sign of Pisces, which falls near to April. In France, unsuspecting victims have a paper fish stuck to their back and when they eventually discover it they are called Poisson d’Avril. It is a prank mainly played by school children.
The French media also takes part, so if you watch the French news, be careful of what you believe!
The French not surprisingly celebrate the day with their cooking as well. Boulangries and Chocolatiers bulge with fish shaped pastries and chocolates in honour of the day, giving the adults an excuse to celebrate the day while the children play jokes on each other.
I hope you had a great April Fool’s Day and were not caught out by too many practical jokes.
Garden and landscaping centre, Boulogne-sur-Gesse, Haute-Garonne, Midi-Pyrenees