Friday, March 30, 2012

April Fools Day and Fish - Postcard Friendship Friday #109

I’ve always wondered about the association of April Fool’s Day and fish. One can find many vintage postcards with ladies in lovely clothing, cradling a dead fish! 

No one really knows exactly when April Fools Day, or how All Fool’s Day actually began.  Most historians believe it started in 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX.  When the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, New Year's Day was moved from April First, to January First.

But in those days, news didn't travel quickly, so some people learned of the calendar change several years later.  Until then, they continued to celebrate the New Year in April.  Yet there were others who were rebellious about the change, who refused to acknowledge the new calendar date and who continued to celebrate the New Year in April.

These rebels were labeled "fools.”   People made fun of them and sent the dissenters on "fool errands."  People would often send these defiant folks invitations to nonexistent parties and played other mean-spirited practical jokes upon them. 

Apparently people called those celebrating the new year on April Fool’s Day "poisson d'avril," or "April fish."  It has the idea of a young naive fish, which is easily caught. A favorite joke at that time, was to hook a paper fish on people’s backs without their knowledge.  It is thought that sticking a paper on someone's back with the words "kick me," evolved from that ancient tradition.

As time passed, the world adopted the new calendar celebrating the New Year on January First.  However, the custom of prank-playing on April First continued. April Fool's Day eventually spread to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French.

So now you know why April Fools Day cards often have fish on them!

On a more personal note, our Grandfather was born on April 1st, so this date has a special meaning for me and my family.

*  NOTE: You don't have to stick to the theme I choose each Friday. Just put up the postcards you love and tell us why you like them.

*  REMINDER: Comments and links which contain advertising and do not refer to any of the following; Postcard Friendship Friday, mailboxes, the Post office, postcards or the love of postcards, will be deleted.



Julie Goucher said...

Fascinating account. Not a fish card I am afraid, but a super find last Christmas. It was one of those cards that HAD to be bought!

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

Lovely cards! You can buy fish made of chocolate, which I always find a bit odd, on April Fools Day in France. :)

Aimee said...

Thanks for the info...I never knew that!

Snap said...

I had no idea! I learn something new almost every Friday! Thanks for hosting, Beth and thanks for this card. Happy PFF!

Terra said...

I did not know this about the fish and AprilFool's Day. I always like the cards you share with us.

Four-eyed-missy said...

I had no idea!! Thank you for the information.

Postcards Crossing

Heather said...

Interesting about the date. Perhaps the photographer added in the fish later. I recently bought my son, who is studying photography, a book from about 1924 about photographic trickery.

Please come and enter my contest this week.

Irene said...

You always come up with some awesome facts. I love the cards, fish or not.

Geri Walton said...

Hi Beth:

Can I use the postcard of poisson d'avril on a bog post I am doing? I will link to your blog and give you credit.

Thanks Geri