Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poisson d'Avril

Some people Don't like fish.


 But I hope you are a fan of fish, because we have a few more.

You thought we were all done with the fish? No, no, no. This is the big fish day, April 1.  Here's an explanation of April fish from an earlier post.

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. Unfortunately, the tradition of April fish cards in France has slowly faded away. What a shame.

And here's what happens when postcard photographers have too much wine with lunch.  I imagine them posing this poor fish on his Vespa, laughing uproariously, and then cooking him with the parsley and whatever wine remained.


  1. Definitely didn't even connect the "1 Avril" on all the cards with "April 1st" until you spelled it out here... haha.

  2. Ohhh! These are great. And great research, too!

  3. Okay, I can't resist for card no. 3:

    Hey lady, nice set of fish.

  4. That does it, I'm takin' Friday off and going fishin' gonna catch me some of them slippery French critters for myself...

  5. I have been beating myself up for not posting a fish card on my blog on April 1 --- how very un-Francophile of me -- but I just KNEW you'd have one ...or two...or...:) Love em!

  6. Hi Christine, there are a million things I should be doing but it's a long time since I've visited you for a look around. There fish cards are astonishing, obviously a tradition that I knew nothing about. I find them really weird in an engaging kind of way.

  7. Norma,
    Thanks for stopping by and reminding me that it's high time I posted another French Fish card. I also find these fish cards amazing in a weird sort of way. They never fail to bring a smile to my face.



Related Posts with Thumbnails