Friday, April 1, 2011

Poisson d'Avril

I learned something new today. April Fool's Day in France is called Poisson d'Avril. I learned this when Ma Fille came home for lunch with a colorful paper fish and tried to stick it on my back. She says the children have been making these fish all day long and sticking them, softly, softly like a 'Kick Me' sign on unsuspecting teachers' and friends' backs.

This was all she knew. So, naturally my curiosity kicked in and I had to find out why. And then tell you.

From what I can gather one explanation is that it's to do with the calendar. In 16th century France the King moved the New Year from the beginning of April to the beginning of January. Pesky King. And when he did this you can imagine that it took awhile for this information to get passed around the country. How fast can you relay calendar information on a horse anyway? That left a lot of country bumpkin's, those in remote areas and those stuck in their ways to continue celebrating the new year around the first of April. Apparently, and this is where I get lost, there was plenty of paper, crayons and Scotch tape laying around for 16th century Frenchies to fashion colorful fish and then stick them to those who weren't in on the 'January 1st makes it a new year' thing.
I'm not really buying it.

Another explanation is that across the world, different cultures and religions have a day of foolishness in the spring. This makes more sense to me. Have you ever seen a butterfly go all googly for a flower or an adolescent girl giggle when an adolescent boy throws a clod of dirt near her or dangles a worm by her ear?  Puppies, kittens, birds and bees all go loo-laa in the spring. Heck, I asked you to call me Summer Girl for goodness sake!

The fish thing? Well, my money is on the fact that fish make for good humor. Have you ever seen Basil Fawlty sling a smoked herring around? Fish are funny. And that's the truth.

Enjoy your shenanigans today. Be silly and free and kick up your heels like a spring lamb. My kids are busy taping paper fish to the backs of their friends.
And of course, it's France so there's a special pastry shaped like a poisson made especially for the day. I'm off to investigate further.....


  1. I was going to post on Facebook that I was pregnant again for April Fools Day--but I thought twice about it because of the liability of the heart attacks it might cause....think I will just stick to having a fish taped to my back!


  2. Well THAT explains why I left my primary theatre class today with random bits of paper stuck all over my back!!! I thought the kidlets were just being extra bizarre.

    Thanks for clearing up the confusion - merci!

  3. We have the double whammy of Carneval at the kids' schools today too. Much tom foolery going on around our little town today. Happy April Fool's!

  4. Hand up over here; I had a colorful fish taped to my back, thanks to the littlest, who trumpeted: "hold still--and don't peek!"

    He's still honing his April foolery skills.


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