Saturday, March 31, 2007

Poisson d'avril


It’s April Fool’s Day tomorrow and here it’s called Poisson d’avril, or April Fish. On this day, if you’re not careful, you’re likely to find paper fish taped to your back by mischievous children - which does indeed make you look rather silly. The origin of this custom is a little vague. One explanation is that this time of year coincides with the sign of the zodiac, Pisces, and another dates back to 1564 when Charles IX changed the calendar so that New Year’s Day fell on the first of January rather than on the first of April, as it had until then. People got terribly confused and some forgot and went around wishing Happy New Year to everyone in April, which they found enormously funny. The original “April Fish” joke is said to have involved sending some poor fool – who still thought it was January and not April, despite the warm weather, gambolling lambs and apple blossom - to market, to buy freshwater fish when it was out of season. I suppose he got wise to it eventually.

I was never terribly successful with April Fool's Day jokes. When I was a child, I once filled the sugar basin with salt and my normally mild-mannered father was very upset because he was in a hurry to get to work and was looking forward to his cup of morning tea. Another time, my mother made him "coffee" from gravy-browning - and if my memory is right, he didn't even notice. When my own children were small, I regularly woke them up on the first of April with "Quick! There's an elephant on the balcony!" or some such witticism. Strangely enough, they never ever believed me.

5 comments:

angela said...

When I worked in the north of England April Fool was in the morning and the afternoon was reserved for "legging up" the totally dangerous sport of tripping unsuspecting people up.
I could never quite become involved in paper fishes somehow...
Angela

Mlle Smith said...

Replacing the sugar with salt is especially hilarious to me...it sounds like something I'd do. :0)

Gigi said...

That does sound a bit dangerous, Angela...paper fishes are safer, I think ;-)

My dad usually has a brilliant sense of humour but I remember his wrath to this day...it was so unusual for him to get angry!

part-time buddha said...

As it happens, I believe you. But only because there really is an elephant on my balcony.

Tinsie said...

Having tasted coffee "sweetened" with salt rather than sugar, I must say I do sympathise with your dad - it really tastes vile.
Paper fish certainly sounds a safer bet.