Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

April Fools’ Day in France: Le Poisson d’Avril

“Today in France, those who are fooled on April 1 are called the “Poisson d’Avril” (the April Fish). A common prank (especially among school-aged children) is to place a paper fish on the back of an unsuspecting person. When the paper fish is discovered, the victim is declared a “Poisson d’Avril.”

While it is not clear of the origins of fish being associated with April 1, many think the correlation is related to zodiac sign of Pisces (a fish), which falls near April.

If you are looking for an easy way to prank your friends or family, doodling or cutting out a paper fish and sticking it on the back of an unsuspecting victim is an easy (though admittedly juvenile) way of commemorating the origins of April Fools’ Day.

Of course as someone who enjoys France in large part because of all the amazing food, my personal favorite part about Poisson d’Avril are the plethora of bakeries and cholocatiers that make fish shaped French pastries and chocolates in honor of the holiday.”

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