The origins of April Fools are widely debated but the most commonly accepted explanation credits France for starting the holiday. That’s right. It all always come back to the French somehow 😉
According to this theory, April’s Fool goes back to 1564 when King Charles XIV changed the calendar around, moving the start of the year from late March to early January. Not everyone was quick to catch onto the change and some people kept celebrating New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st. And these people had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs and so victims of the pranks were called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools. Why fish… well, that we don’t know but it stuck for some reason.
So April Fool’s Day in France is still a fishy fête called Poisson d’Avril. One of the most common prank is little kids trying to pin paper fish they’ve either drawn themselves or coloured onto the back of their unsuspecting classmates or parents… But the best part of April’s Fools for most French people is that all the patisseries and bakeries create fish shaped chocolates for the occasion. It may always come back to the french, but for the French, it always comes back to pastries. And that’s not April’s Fools…
[This post was initially published on this blog on April 1st, 2010. No joke!]