Every year, on the 1st of April, it is a common joke in France amongst children to try and stick a paper fish on their friends’ back without them noticing. When discovered, the person pulling the prank shouts: “Poisson d’avril!”
Grown-ups’ “poissons d’avril” consist in making up fake news or practical jokes. Even the media have a go!
This tradition dates back to 1564 when Charles IX changed the calendar year from the 1st of April to the 1st of January. At first, many people did not accept the change and carried on celebrating the new year on the 1st of April. Those who had embraced the new calendar started to mock the reluctant ones by playing tricks on them.
So, why a fish?
Well, possibly because of Lent which coincides with the date of the 1st of April. Or maybe because fishing is forbidden in April in France!
Whatever the reason, the 1st of April is a time for fun and pranks!
To pay a trick = Faire une farce
To tell a joke = Raconter une blague
To laugh = Rire, Rigoler (fam.*)
To smile = Sourire
To joke = Plaisanter
To burst out with laughter = Éclater de rire
To cry with laughter = Pleurer de rire
Laughter = Le rire
A smile = Un sourire
A practical joke = Une farce
A joke = Une blague
Funny = Drôle, amusant(e), rigolo (rigolote)
LOL = MDR (mort de rire)
* = familiar