What’s with the French and 1 April, the day when school children go around pasting paper fish on the backs of the unsuspecting and yell “Poisson d’avril !”. No one knows for sure but there are plenty of adorable, probably not-entirely true theories behind the tradition.
One comes from the fact that back in the day the new year began around the first of April. That changed in 1564 when King Charles IX took France into the modern world by adopting the Gregorian calendar and a new year beginning with January. This caused understandable confusion and frustration. (Think about it. As it is, Daylight Savings Time throws me off for weeks. Imagine shifting a whole season.) The response was to jokingly continue to celebrate the beginning of the new year on 1 April with gag gifts of fake fish.
Okay, but why fish? It may have been connected to Lent which often fell about this time of year. Meat was forbidden and fish was a big treat, ergo giving someone a fake fish was hilarious. (Don’t ask me, I don’t understand pranks at the best of times.) It is more likely to be linked to the fact that fishing [read more]