April Fool’s Day in France is known as Poisson d’avril (April Fish) thanks to a bizarre tradition of sticking paper fish to people’s backs. Perhaps equivalent to ‘Kick me’ signs in English, the fish should only be attached on 1st April, and retailers encourage such behaviour by baking fish-shaped pastries and making fish-shaped chocolates. So how and why did this start? Nobody seems to know for sure but there are many theories, ranging from the date’s proximity to the Pisces astrological sign (although it falls smack bang in the middle of Aries) to when mackerals are good for eating to a French king’s change to the calendar year start date, which had been 1st April prior to his change, with many of his subjects refusing to let go of the day as a deay of celebration. And what better way to celebrate than to stick a fish on your mate’s back?
So, I gave it a go this morning. My cat, Bruno had no idea when I slapped this paper fish on his back while he slept, curled up, on his favourite soft toy (which happens to be a dog – double ‘hah!’). I giggled away and taunted him with ‘poisson d’avril‘ as I took this photo. Then I realised that the fish looks quite like a dolphin and I think the cat may have had the last laugh.
Anyway, I’m off to the bakery to pick up some fish-shaped pastries before they’re gone for another year.