April Fish

 

 

I am willing to love all mankind, except an American. Samuel Johnson

For the French, April Fools Day began as Poisson d’Avril or April-Fish, a tradition reputedly inaugurated in 1564 when Charles IX, an early science denier, suddenly decreed that the year no longer began with the advent of Spring on April 1st, but rather in January. Nine years later his court pundits justified this bizarre claim with the Gregorian calendar.

Meanwhile, the befuddled masses, not willing to passively follow the ignorant whims of their ruler, and who had already been accustomed to exchanging new year’s gifts on April 1st, decided to maintain the tradition.

The day actually evolved into a sardonic little ceremony designed to highlight the stupidity of the King. On every April 1rst fishmongers throughout France would tell unsuspecting customers that, due to the announcement of the king’s new calendar, out-of-season fish were now suddenly in season. Anyone gullible enough to believe the ridiculous story had a little paper fish pinned to their back and for the rest of the day were teased for their gullibility with the phrase “Poisson d’Avril!” or April Fish !