April fool’s day in France is celebrated on …. April 1st (surprise!). In France, we simply call it by its date : “le premier avril“, day during which we do some “Poisson d’avril” (literally meaning “April’s fish” in English), and as indicated by its name, traditionally we secretly hang a fish (not a real one, I reassure you, but a drawing) on the back of the person we want to fool. Of course, like in most countries, we also do pranks. Let’s know more about this tradition!
What concretely happens on April 1st in France?
Most children are celebrating this day by doing funny pranks to their friends and to their family. They also usually draw a fish on a paper and hang it on the back of the teacher or anybody. The longer the fish stays on the back without the person to notice it, the funnier it is! When the person figures it out, the child screams “poisson d’avril“!
Famous French pranks
- In the 70’s, France Inter announced that the Montparnasse Tower (highest tower of Paris) was too high, according to town-planning rules and that a few floors should be removed.
- In 1972, the French health minister announced on a public television channel that smoking in public places was banned (well, it actually became true in 2007). France Inter also made a joke that same year : As the UK were entering the EEC (European Economic Community), French people should from now on drive on the left side.
- In 1986, French news convey the information that the Eiffel Tower should be moved because the river that goes through Paris, la Seine, was moving it.
- In 2014, France Inter announces that the Eiffel Tower will be sold to Qatar, because it is too expensive.
My favorite joke on April fool’s day in France
A few years ago, my boyfriend came back home from work. It was about 6 pm. As soon as he came into the house, I ran toward him all terrified asking him if he had seen the car. He didn’t really understand and he said : “Yes I did see it in front of the house”. I replied “Oh, you didn’t see it!” “See what ?!?” “Please promise me you won’t be mad at me.” “Tell me what you did.” I soooo wanted to laugh that I pretended I was crying. He went outside and carefully checked the whole car… Twice. Of course he didn’t see anything weird/broken/scratched.
I said “No there is nothing outside, but you didn’t check inside though.” While he opened the front car door, he saw a paper fish on the seat and realized he had been fooled so I screamed “Poisson d’avril !!!!” I wish you could have seen his face : he was so relieved !!!
The best prank for me is first of all when the other one didn’t even realise it was April 1st so that he/she doesn’t expect any prank (to maximize your chance, do it in the morning). Secondly, the joke needs to be plausible. And last but not least, don’t ever laugh!
And you, what do you do on April fool’s day in your country? What is the funniest prank you made/you received?