The History of Poisson D’Avril
When France changed its calendar in 1564 to recognize January 1st as the beginning of the New Year rather than March people played tricks on those who failed to embrace the change.
One of these tricks was to stick paper fish to their backs and call them Poisson d’Avril or April Fish, which what they still call an April Fool to this day.
As a history buff I thought it might be fun to incorporate the Poisson d’Avril as part of our family’s April Fool’s Day party.
The Poisson d’Avril Prank
When our kids were little we incorporated the April Fish tradition into our celebration. It’s fun and taps into their creativity.
We would stick fish shapes on each other’s back as we went about our day and at a set time we counted the fish on everyone’s back to see who was able to prank their siblings the most often.
When my kids were very little I cut out fish shapes and put rolled tape on the back for them. When they got older they created their own fish. My sons were happy with just a fish shape and my daughter’s fish were more elaborate, but then she’s an artist. Each child had a different color of fish so they would know who’s was whose.
One year when I didn’t have the time or energy to cut out all the fish shapes I just drew a fish on different colored post-it notes for each child. Works great too and keeps it simple.
It was fun to watch the kids trick each other by slapping their sibling on the back without a fish in hand just to watch the other squirm and try to look at their back. They also came up with techniques to make the fish stick better – like using more tape – and how to sneak up unseen. I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere!
As they get older they needed more rules too:
1. Everyone gets the same number of fish to start with, and each contestant has a different color fish to make counting easier.
2. You can’t take the fish off your own back or anyone else’s – which includes “scratching your back” against the corner of a wall or any thing else.
3. If your color of fish fell off someone you can pick it up and use it again. If it doesn’t stick anymore you can add more tape but you can’t replace it with a new one.
It became competitive enough without adding prizes! After counting the fish to declare a winner we had a little feast and they all enjoyed discussing the events of the contest and discussing “theories” for next year.
Poisson d’Avril Food
Here’s an absolute must for your Poisson d’Avril party – Goldfish crackers with Blue onion dip! (Got this idea from GRAMMY© winner Allee Willis’ Blog.) Just add blue coloring one drop at a time to your favorite onion dip until it’s the hue of the ocean.
Of course Swedish Fish (or gummi fish candy) are a must! You can find them at your local department store, bin store or sometimes at the grocery store.
If you want to purchase online, here are some from Amazon.com:
(Please note that prices change constantly and are shown here to give you an idea of what’s available & how it fits into your budget.)
Put a fish on your own back with this fun Poisson d’Avril t-shirt featuring a retro fish.
Over to You
What pranks have become “tradition” in your house? Tell us all about it in the comments!