The April Fool’s Day tradition, « Poisson d’Avril » from April 1st (episode 1)

“An April fool’s joke is a joke made on April 1st to acquaintances, colleagues, friends or family. It is also common practice to make hoaxes in the media, both in the print media and on radio, television or the Internet.
For children, it consists, for example, in hanging a paper fish in the back of the people you want to make fun of. “April Fool’s Day! “is also the exclamation that is made once one of the jokes is discovered. »

1. Where does this tradition come from?

From the 7th century until 1564, in France, the calendar year does not begin on January 1st but on March 25th (date of the Christian Annunciation).
The French celebrated the transition to the New Year from March 25 to April 1 by celebrating and giving each other so-called “strange” gifts.

In 1564, by King Charles IX’s edict of Roussillon, the European calendars were harmonized and the year began on January 1.
We will then offer ourselves the real gifts on January 1st but some, rebels perhaps, will continue to celebrate the fake new year on April 1st.
This practice will therefore lead to humorous gifts, hoaxes and jokes to mark this “fake” New Year.

Another possible origin of the April 1st entertainment could have its source in antiquity, in ancient Greece, where a day was dedicated to the God of laughter. This day was a day of jokes and role-playing (ancestor of disguise).

2. Why introduce this entertainment to continue celebrating a fake New Year?

The feast of April 1st often falls during Christian Lent and provides a playful and light break in the midst of the austerity of the pre-Easter period.

3. And why is it called “April Fool’s Day”?

One of the representations of the April 1st jokes is the fish, which we love to stick on our friends’ backs (or not), which we stage on paintings, drawings or in the kitchen.
The fact that the feast of April 1st falls during Lent could explain the use of fish, which is the king of Lent’s food.

But, nothing is certain, there are other non-religious explanations such as the fact that the fishing season (which begins on April 1st for some species or on the contrary or ends for other species beginning their reproduction) or that this period corresponds to the zodiac sign of the fish.

4. Is April 1st only celebrated by the French?

This habit of making jokes has spread to many countries.

For example, the Americans and the British have kept their “April Fool’s Day”, the Russians call it “Crazy Day” (den dourakov), for the Romanians it is “deception/dupery of April 1st” (păcăleală de 1 aprilie); in Portugal and Brazil it is called “day of lies” (dia das mentiras).

There are other similar events in India, for example Holi’s Day, where it is customary to make jokes, especially when trying to spray each other with colours. It usually takes place in March, in early spring. It depends on the Hindu calendar17.

Tell us about your « Poisson d’Avril » experiences (good and bad), or your suggestions for activities? We are looking forward to your stories and comments !

This post is part of a serie:

Our advice for celebrating April Fool’s Day in compliance with the label (episode 2)

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin