April Fools’ Day or Poisson d’Avril

Living abroad has kept me curious. Foreigners wouldn’t be able to go on with their lives if they didn’t try to understand the countless new things that surround them. And living abroad gave me back a sense of wonder I’d lost in my familiar France.

When it came to traditions it’s always through my American-born children that I’ve questionned the origins of the French traditions I was passing on.

Take April 1st for example.

April Fools’ in the USA, Poisson d’Avril in France.

Since I’ll be embarking the crazy A to Z Challenge boat on April 1st, I’m posting two days in advance about this French tradition.


In France, on April 1st, in addition to the jokes people tell each other, children pin a cutout fish in the back of friends, classmates, or siblings.

The point is to make fun of those unfortunate people who will walk around with a fish on their back.
Although I’ve pinned more than one fish on my friends’ backs and walked with one on my shirt at least twice without noticing, it’s only when my children asked me, “Why a fish?” that I did some research about the origins of this tradition.


The reasons vary a lot and it’s hard to know for sure. However, it seems that it goes back to 1564 when the French King Charles IX decided to change the calendar. From now on, the year would begin on January 1st instead of April 1st as it had been until then. On that day, people used to exchange gifts in honor of the New Year. Many had a hard time adjusting to the new calendar and kept celebrating on April 1st.
Their friends made fun of them, and since it was it was the end of Lent in the Christian calendar and that people ate fish instead of meat during this religious time, a paper fish was pinned in the back of the foolish ones who kept celebrating the beginning of the year on April 1st.

April 1st is celebrated in many countries all around the globe, but the fish looks like a very French addition to the typical jokes.


Do you have favorite April Fools’ jokes? Have you fallen for one?


P.S. See you on April 1st for the 2016 A to Z Challenge. And it’s not a Poisson d’Avril.

From A to Z All These Little French and American Words…

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From April 1st to April 30th, I will write every day, but Sundays, following the alphabetical order, about one of these little French and American words that don’t always mean the same thing whether they are used in France or the USA.

Due to the predominance of American words used in France in comparison to the number of French words used in the USA, I won’t always be able to alternate between the two languages. In some cases I found more than one word, so I will sometimes offer you two for the price of one.

On the other side, I’m still missing a few words for a few letters.

If anyone is willing to help out, it would be awesome. I’m looking either for a French word used in the USA or an American word used in France that starts with the following letters:

J, K, Q, U, Y, X, Z.

If I cannot find any good match, I’ll go ahead with an idiom, different from the ones I selected for the 2015 A to Z Challenge.

As always I welcome your comments, suggestions and support.

The more the merrier.

I’m also looking forward to seeing what you are up to for this 2016 A to Z challenge.




Du 1er au 30 avril j’écrirai un billet chaque jour, sauf le dimanche, suivant l’ordre alphabétique, à propos de l’un de ces petits mots français et américains qui ne veulent pas toujours dire ce qu’ils sont supposés signifier qu’ils soient utilisés en France ou aux Etats Unis.

Pour ce nouveau challenge il me sera parfois difficile de publier alternativement en français et en anglais, du à la proéminence de mots américains dans la langue française en comparaison avec le nombre de mots français utilisés aux Etats Unis. Dans certains cas, cependant, j’ai trouvé plusieurs exemples pour la même lettre. Je vous en offrirai donc parfois deux pour le prix d’un.

Par contre il me manque encore quelques mots pour les lettres suivantes: J, K, Q, U, Y, X, Z.

Si vous voulez m’aider à trouver soit un mot français utilisé aux USA ou un mot américain utilisé en France, je vous en remercie par avance.

Si je ne trouve rien je choisirai une expression idiomatique comme je l’ai fait en 2015 pour le Challenge de A à Z.

Comme toujours je suis ouverte à vos commentaires, suggestions et encouragement.

Plus on est de fous plus on rit.

Je suis impatiente de lire ce que vous aurez vous aussi concocté pour le challenge 2016.


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