April Fool’s A Fish

On April 1, 2005, a couple of months after attending my first friend wedding whilst still in college,  I received an email from the couple announcing a new arrival in their family.


Sigh of relief. It was only a dog.

A few years earlier, in high school, I participated in a school trip to France over spring break, including April 1st.


That was the year I learned about the Poisson d’Avril (literally, the April Fish) and the fact that the French refer to a goldfish as a poisson rouge. Neither our instructor nor our tour guide had a clear answer as to what the French would call a fish that is actually red. Perhaps un poisson qui est rouge?

Ponder that.


For reasons mired in speculation, the traditional French April Fools’ Day prank is to attach a paper fish (often—in my experience—either a poisson rouge or a poisson qui est rouge) to the back of your victim. When said victim discovers your knavery, you get to call him a poisson d’avril.

Silly fish.

Fish and fools go hand in hand in the French springtime.


Plus, after a day of pasting paper fish to people’s backs, the French indulge in fancy fish-themed pastries and chocolates.

Not too shabby.

This is a prime example of what happens when you inform high school students about poisson d’avril right after they have been to a museum that gives out little red sticker badges upon entry.

Mind you, multiple stickers arranged however artistically on the subject’s back can only be done with his cooperative indulgence, as clearly this was quite the operation. I recommend a single fish if you are looking to actually fool someone.


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