Friday, March 31, 2006
Tomorrow, if you are in France, and you aren't careful– you might find a cardboard fish on your back: poisson d'avril! If you aren't thinking it of yourself: Que je suis bête! someone else is and laughing.
The origin of April Fools' Day is not clear with many cultures indulging in and enjoying making fools of their compatriotes since ancient Rome and the festival of Hilaria (known today as Roman Laughing Day).
The French are generally credited with April Fools' Day because it's marked on THEIR calendar. Before 1582, the eight-day celebration of the new year culminated on April 1st. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was introduced and new year's day was moved to January 1st. Those who didn't hear about the date change or stubbornly refused the new calendar were labeled as fools and ridiculed. That explains the date of this holiday.
What about the fish? Some of the explanations I've come across seem a little far-fetched: ...a joke to depict them as 'April Fish' that represented young and naïve fishes that are easily caught on the first day of April; Some believe that the fish is tied to Jesus Christ, who was often represented as a fish in early Christian times. Others say the fish is related to the zodiac sign of Pisces, which is represented by a fish, and falls near April.
Whatever the reason for the fish- if you happen to find one on your back tomorrow it might be of some consolation to find yourself in the company of the great Napoleon, who earned the Poisson d'Avril monicker when he married Marie-Louise of Austria on April 1, 1810. An unwanted cardboard fish in France is certainly better than waking up the next day in Las Vegas with an unwanted marriage certificate pinned on your back.
So- watch your back on April 1st!
le premier avril = April Fools' Day, also known as All Fools' Day
poisson d'avril = April fool, literally "April fish"
Que je suis bête! = What a fool I am!
Photo: Looking out from inside The Tube (at theDFS Galleria Waikiki shopping mall) a 65,000-gallon, two-story saltwater aquarium you can actually stroll through.
Hawaii, en septembre 2002