It may seem like something fishy is going on in Paris and France, but don't grab your lemons just yet, it's just the annual celebration of Poisson d'Avril - April Fools' Day. Let's take a P'Niche peek to learn more about this amusing tradition...
As we often do, we need to jump into our special P'Niche Time Machine, (patent pending) and head back in time to get to the root of the history.
We've arrived at January of 1563, under the reign on King Charles IX. Prior to this year, New Year's Day fell on - April 1st (in accordance with the Julian calendar and in alignment with the Catholic feast of the Annunciation).
As April 1st also correlated with the end of the Lenten season (where no meat was permitted to be eaten, but fish was allowed to be consumed).
Naturally, exchanged gifts to start off the New Year were often fish.
Our main man Chuck, well, he decided he wanted the New Year to commence on a new date - January 1st - in alignment with the Gregorian calendar (a solar based calendar which revolves - get it? - around a 365 day year).
His royal edict (the Edict of Roussillon) was given on August 9, 1564 to announce the change.
The change / movement of New Year's went into full effect on January 1, 1567. Was there a big party or even a Roussillon New Year's Eve ball drop?!
Not everyone was a fan of the change.
In fact, it all got started as rather a tongue in cheek (gill?) prank of sticking a fake fish on the back of someone, a "fool" who didn't accept the changing times.
Unsurprisingly, over time, this morphed into a much more playful day of trickery.
To this day, and mostly among school aged children, a paper fish is taped to the back of the unsuspecting child or children.
Once the kiddo has discovered his gilled comrade, the person who stuck it to him has to then cheerfully announce "Poisson d'Avril, Poisson d'Avril!" while running away.
It's a very lively way to celebrate the day and engaging for all around, the day now more representing friendship and good humor.
But it's not the only way Poisson d'Avril was celebrated...
Well into the 1900s, people would often send "Poisson d'Avril" notes, cards and postcards to each other - to "celebrate the new year" and to wish each other a day of good luck and fun.
Again, as a term of friendship and affection, silly postcards would be sent amongst friends as a gesture of good will.
With the advent of technology, needless to say, the giving of physical paper cards and postcards has lessened over time, but you can still find many glorious vintage notes and postcards at the many Paris flea markets and brocantes.
Hunting for treasures at these markets is one of P'Niches favorite ways to spend the in Paris and we will discuss them in more depth in the future. Do make sure to subscribe to join us back here in the Parisian Niche.
Nowadays, most people enjoy the day by exchanging "fish themed" gifts and offerings, like this cheeky fish shaped chocolate.
Other fish shaped pastries and goodies are readily available at bakeries, chocolatiers, etc. all over Paris and France.
Of course, the French media gets in on the fun! In years gone by, several "fake news" headlines such as "Eiffel Tower to be moved to Disneyland Paris," and "Giraffes seen strolling the French Riviera" have given many the giggle.
Don't be surprised if you hear cries of "Poisson d'Avril" (April Fools' Day) on your visit to Paris this April and make sure to really check those news headlines!
If you want to pick up a fish shaped treat you can head to:
À la Mère de Famille
Several locations, but P'Niche enjoys:
58, rue de Levis, 75017
Métro (Villiers, Lines 2/3)
What do you think, P'Nicher, are you ready to celebrate April Fools' Day in Paris - how will you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below et à bientôt!