Monday, December 7, 2009

Guess Who Sent You This Fish Airplane

Back in the old days in France (up until 1564), the new year was celebrated on April first, based on the Julian calendar. That was before King Charles IX came along and decided that everybody should be following the Gregorian calendar, which starts the new year on the first day of January. Not everyone welcomed this change, or so the story goes, and some people continued to celebrate April 1 as the first day of the year. Allegedly, those people were mocked and referred to as April fools. Whatever the case, it became a tradition to do things such as pasting a fish on unsuspecting people's backs on April 1, and calling them a Poisson d'Avril or an April Fish. The symbol of the fish may also have been connected with Jesus Christ.

There is another theory that the traditions were inspired by the abundance of newly-hatched fish in French rivers in the Spring. These fish, who had not yet acquired their stream smarts, were easy to catch, and referred to as Poisson d'Avril. Because of the fish, it became customary to fool people on April first. It's still a tradition to give chocolate fish as a present and at one time it was also very popular to send, often anonymously, postcards featuring fish. Somewhere along the line, these cards also became romantic, with the fish symbolizing remembrance and secret feelings.


  1. I have been wanting the Walker Evans book so a may buy for myself for Christmas.

    I got lucky and found 3 April fish postcards locally a couple of months ago.

  2. Well, I may not learn something every day, but with this post I did today.

    And Walker Evans is among the greatest American artists, so if his collecting eye was as keen as his photographic one, that has to be a fine book.

  3. Wonderful postcard! I buy digital scans from FrenchKissed - she has some amazing stuff ;-)

    I was wondering if I could possibly use this image - and turn it into a Greetings Card? ;-)

    You profile mentioned getting in touch if anyone did - so wanted to ask your permission - but no worries if you'd rather not.

    best Wishes


  4. So that's where April Fool came from ... .
    great post!



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