During my semester abroad in Paris, I spent a few days exploring Alsace with my parents. We were lucky enough to be there on April 1st – April Fool’s Day in the US, and known as Poisson d’Avril in France. It is commonly believed that the April Fool’s Day tradition actually began in France in the 16th century, when King Charles XIV changed the calendar, moving the beginning of the year from April 1st to January 1st. Because news traveled so slowly in those days, those people who hadn’t heard yet – or refused to make the change – had tricks played on them on the old New Year’s Day.
“Poisson d’Avril” means “April’s fish” and referred to the person being fooled, but eventually led to a fish theme for the whole day. For instance, children often stick pictures of fish on each others’ backs, shouting “Poisson d’Avril!” when discovered.  Also, many bakers and chocolatiers make fish-shaped treats.

During our visit to Alsace, the small town where we stayed celebrated with a fish-themed festival. There was even a tank where children could fish for trout… and fish-shaped food galore.  I was hooked!  — Molli PS. Did you know Oldways is going to Normandy this month?


I lived in Alsace as a student. Poissons d'avril is one of my favorite holidays. Not only do you eat fish, the boulangeries are full of fish-shaped highly decorated intricate breads. They also have intricate chocolate fish centerpieces, plus all kinds of candy fish. It is the foundation of our idea playing tricks on people on April 1, but the only trick you play there is attempting to stick paper fish on people's backs.

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