Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sundays in France: Poisson d'Avril | With Printable Fish for April Fool's Day

Every Sunday, this blog will explore France, based on our family's virtual explorations in 2011

April 1st is a day of jokes and pranks in many places, including in France. Along with fake stories in the media, everyone loves to play "Poissons d'Avril" (April's Fish). It's simple, silly fun. Children (and the young at heart) tape paper fish to someone's else's back, and wait and see how long it takes for them to notice. When the person notices the fish, the culprit shouts out "Poissons d'Avril!".

There's a theory that the custom of playing pranks on April 1st originates in France. During the 16th century, France adopted the Gregorian calendar, changing the current New Year from April 1st to January 1st. Despite the change, many people continued to celebrate the new year in April - these people were ridiculed as "fools" and pranked in a way of ostracizing them.

But why fish?

Well, no one's certain. A few theories are floating around about that: 

  • It's typically during the season Lent, when many religions have the custom of abstaining from meat and eating fish instead. Historically, a gift of food was common, and therefore of fish during that period. Gifts of fake fish were used as pranks.
  • The sun leaves the Zodiac sign of Pisces (the fish) in April.
  • Fish aren't the brightest and are easy to catch.

Here are a few sites that offer a free printable of fish that kids can cut out and tape to someone's back. It's funny how such a little thing can bring on the giggles!

The first three sites offer fish that kids can color themselves - top row, left to right:
The next three sites have colored fish you can print and cut (and maybe try something a little different)- bottom row, left to right:
  • Here's a page from De Fil en Sardine with four colorful fish anyone can help themselves to - would be funny to put in the kitchen and see what the kids do with it! 
  • Papier, Ciseaux, Cailloux offers seven quirky, colorful fish.
  • Madame Citron has a really fun printable that includes a matchbox fish bowl and moving "poissons d'Avril" using clothespins.

Have fun!


  1. Replies
    1. I can just imagine your family having a lot of fun with this!

  2. You put it on hooks, then it's easier to put them on without them noticing.


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