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Lynn Deasy is a freelance writer, author, foodie, and garden tinkerer. She lives in a 600 year old house in southern France with her husband, Christophe. Currently, she is looking for a literary agent for her memoir CA VA? STORIES FROM RURAL LIFE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE which examines the oddities of French provincial living from an outsider’s point of view through a series of adventures that provide more than a fair share of frustration, education, admiration, and blisters…. yes, lots and lots of blisters. Lynn blogs every Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday.

Friday, March 30, 2012

April’s Fish

This coming Sunday may be April Fools’ Day in the United States, but in France it will be le poisson d’avril.  Translation: April’s fish.  It has the same traditions of trickery and jokes and takes the meaning of the translation literary; a common gag is to tape a paper fish on someone’s back and shout “poisson d’avril” when discovered.

The origins of the day is not altogether clear, but the most popular belief is that it started in 1564 when King Charles IX decided the New Year will start on January 1st rather than the current practice of April 1st.   Before the change, the New Year was marked by exchanging presents, which was commonly food.  Given the date often fell during Lent, the most common gift was fish.  After the king’s change of date, certain individuals continued to give presents of fake fish on April 1st to perpetuate doubt.  Eventually, these presents were transformed into small gifts intended to trick or gently tease others.

So, watch your back this Sunday.  You never know when a poisson d’avril will arrive.

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