What April Fool’s Day is Like in France

By Christina 

April Fools is a nonholiday that many of us enjoy, mainly because we like playing silly pranks on each other. Or if you’re like me and you have interesting people in your life, they like to scare the living daylights out of you. 


In France, children follow the tradition of April Fools much differently than in the US. They use paper fish to play April Fools tricks. 


This involves sticking a paper fish onto the back or wherever they can of as many adults as possible. 

And after doing so, they run away yelling “Poisson d’Avril!” (April Fish). Yes, that’s right it’s called April fish.

April fools in france

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April fools

image from the good life france

The French Tradition of Poissioin d’ Avril (April Fools)


The traditon of poission d’avril dates back to 1564.

See it was the New Year (it started on the 1st of April-you read that right!)

The tradition of the new year starting in April ended in the mid-16th century.

In his proclamation of Paris on January 1563, King Charles IX (1550-1574) made a lot of changes to the French Calendar. 


You see the silly king wanted the year to start on the 1st of January and not April. To us today, January 1st is normal. 


The royal edict was named Edict of Roussillon. However, it wasn’t applied until 1567.


Legend has it that the people of France were not very happy with this enforced law. So by way of protesting, people continued to celebrate the new year around the 1st of April. 


Those who embraced the new calendar started to mock the reluctant ones. And began to give them false presents and play tricks on them.

But the Fish? Where does that come from?

Enter the fish.

The 1st of April of that year also coincided with the end of Lent.

 Lent is the Catholic observation of the time Jesus spent in the desert with no food or water. 


During that time, the church forbade Christians from eating meat or anything fatty.

However, the religion allowed Christians to eat fish.

It was no surprise that the gifts for the new year were often featuring fish. 

When the joks became more common, people would use the fake fish to trick others. 

This is the origin of April Fish. 


Whether you wanna pin fish on the backs of your friends or you would rather wrap someone’s toilet up with surran wrap enjoy your April Fools! 

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Hi, I’m Christina

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I’m the coffee-addicted creative behind Christina Q. Writes. As a full-time writer and lover of history, I share insights into my crazy wonderful life.  Christina Q. Writes is where I share tips and advice to help you live simply and in the moment, and do it your way. Don’t be afraid to laugh at my mistakes!