♓ Poisson d’Avril – April Fish


Ah, the memories.   I grew up as a French Canadian, so it only makes sense that the particular “joke” I was subjected to would be from France.

April 1 was first called Poisson D’Avril by a French poet in 1509. The term poisson d’Avril actually meant April fish, and was meant to refer to a person who had been duped by an April fools prank: they were often marked by a tag shaped like a fish which was placed on the backs of people who had been fooled.

Then, of course, there is the change over from one calendar to the next. In the late 1500s, most of Europe changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar reform caused much confusion.  Years passed before the new calendar system completely took hold. Someone who failed to note the switch was branded an April Fool, given that they were likely still celebrating the old new year holiday, held just after the time of the vernal equinox in late March. The new calendar moved the new year to January 1, but for years there was a small group of people who mistakenly celebrated on April 1.

The Flemish tradition is for children to lock out their parents or teachers, only letting them in if they promise to bring treats the same evening or the next day.

There’s also an early mention that on April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to attend an “Annual ceremony of washing the lions.”

Washing Of The Lions
Washing Of The Lions

There have been many pranks through the years.  A few notable ones are:

In 2008, Canadian airline WestJet announced it would be converting overhead compartments on its planes into sleeper cabins.

In 1979, Frank Jones, a reporter for the Toronto Star, wrote that radiation leaking into Lake Ontario was causing prehistoric creatures to crawl up out of the lake and on to the shores of Ward’s Island.

In 2003, Dunlop Tires (Canada) announced the availability of a new product: personalized tire treads.

I could go on for a few more thousand words!  Instead, allow me to direct you to a few notable sites you can visit:

For the history of April Fool’s Day, I suggest Life 123, answers at the speed of light  and  Wikipedia. For a really fun read, visit the Museum of Hoaxes; another fun read is at Network World – 10 funniest April Fools’ pranks.

Related articles

Happy April Fools” Day to all of you!


  1. really interesting! now I am going to bed but tomorrow I will explore the links you put about the 1st of April 🙂


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