Rendez-Vous #41: Happy April Fools’! Poisson D’Avril !
April 1st is April Fools’ Day! Discover how one of the most light-hearted days of the year is celebrated in some Francophone countries!
In France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, April 1st is traditionally known as “April fish” (poisson d’avril in French). This includes attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.
It goes back to the 16th century. This date is the end of Lent, during which meat consumption is forbidden for Christians, and fish was the most common one. When the jokes were developed, one of the most popular pitfalls was the offering of fake fish.
As well as people playing pranks on one another, elaborated jokes have been performed by the media. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a documentary spoof on the Swiss growing spaghetti in trees. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase spaghetti plants, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day.
- The Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time here
- About the French Traditions of April Fools’ Day here
- The Origin(s) of April Fool’s Day in the World here
Newsletter #41: Happy April Fools’! Poisson D’Avril !