Poisson d’avril: who’s foolin’ who?

We can pinch and punch as much as we like, but April Fools’ Day belongs to the French.

There are several theories as to how it came about. The most popular dates back 450 years, to 1564, when King Charles XIV changed the French calendar. This saw the beginning of the year move from April to January.

Those that refused to accept the change continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on 1 April.

However, they came in for ridicule from the king’s more loyal subjects, becoming the butt of his followers’ jokes. Frequently, and unsuspectingly, they would end up with bits of paper stuck on their backs.

The victims were dubbed les poissons d’avril. Quite what the link with fish is isn’t clear – but the name has stuck all the same.

If you’re a little sceptical, I can assure you there’s nothing fishy about this tail, er, tale.

This entry was published on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 07:45. It’s filed under Language and culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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