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Poisson D'Avril

early 1900s April Fish postcard

April Fool's Day

Apr 1

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"Le poisson d'Avril
Accroché au fil
Derrière ton dos
Avec un p'tit mot
Se moque de toi
Mais tu le vois pas.
Tous les copains rient
Toi, tu ris aussi
Sans savoir pourquoi.
Le poisson, c'est toi!"

Hung on a string
Behind your back
With a little note
Makes fun of you
But you don't see it.
All the friends laugh
You laugh too
Without knowing why.
The fish, it's you!

~ Michel Piquemal

Oh, my starfish and garters! April Fool's! April Fool's Day or "Poisson d'Avril" as the French call it with their usual flair, sparks a delightful tradition across Italy, France, and Belgium. This day sees people of all ages engaging in jests, jokes, japes, and in the playful act of attaching paper fishes to unsuspecting friends' backs, amidst joyful exclamations of "Pesce d’aprile!" in Italy, "Poisson d’avril!" in France, and "Aprilvis!" in Belgium. This act revives an ancient springtime ritual of fun and frolics. The tradition holds a special place in French culture, notably immortalized through April Fools’ Day postcards from the late 19th to early 20th century. These cards, often depicting the April fish in playful and slightly cheeky scenes, capture the essence of this season of mirth. This namesake medley, strathspey and reel, has enough tricks and turns for any jokester to surreptitiously place a fish on a partner! So, keep a fishy lookout and watch your back - you never know when you might become the next victim of an April Fish prank in your set! ❤️ 🃏 💛 🃏 💜 🐟

Poisson D'Avril

Although the origins of this widely-celebrated day remain murky, some historians claim that it began with France’s adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, as determined by the 1563 Council of Trent. Not everyone embranced the switch, and those who continued to follow the Julian calendar proceeded to celebrate the new year on or around April 1. Throughout this week, they became the butt of hoaxes and jokes. One popular prank involved pinning paper fish onto peoples’ backs and referring to them as “poisson d’avril” (literally, “April fish”), a moniker which indicated a juvenile, easily-caught fish and a gullible person.

In the 18th century, the British were introduced to this tradition, which became a full-fledged, two-day event in Scotland. The first day was dedicated to “hunting the gowk” (the word “gowk” means “cuckoo bird,” another symbol for a fool), which involved sending people on bogus errands, while the second, Tailie Day, featured hoaxes played on people’s bottoms. These included sticking fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

A day for pranks, hoaxes, and merriment, a variation of April Fools' Day is now celebrated worldwide.   For a collection of classic vintage "April Fish" postcards, click the fish!

Poisson D'Avril

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

Poisson D'Avril

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WELCOME TO An Entertainment Site for Scottish Country Dancers - Enjoy the curated selection of theme-related dances for celebrations and holidays, or find a dance associated with a special calendar day, or EVEN your own birthday!  

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