Tuesday, April 01, 2014

History of April Fool's Day



Love it or hate it, April Fools is a holiday that is hard to avoid. There is a lot of myth and legend surrounding the history of April Fool's Day, but what is the true history of the April Fools that we know today?

Well I've spent months researching the holiday for today's post. I first got the idea last year when I saw the above image. The truth behind the holiday took me by surprise. It didn't start out as a holiday for fools and pranks. It originated in victorian era France as a spring gift giving holiday. You see, before electricity and refrigeration, fresh food was scarce during the winter months, and people resorted to eating dried and salted meats throughout the cold season. So when spring finally hit and the rivers and ponds thawed it meant they could finally have fresh fish. What does fish have to do with all of this? Well much like the bizarre trade of tulips with the Dutch, come spring it became tradition to gift those you love with fresh fish. (source) The demand for fresh fish became so great, that they increasing sold at higher and higher prices. If you really loved someone, you didn't give fine chocolates, you gave fish. This tradition became so popular that they would often give "Fish Day" cards such as these.





















But how did a national holiday of fish giving lend to the holiday we know today? It started back during WW1. (source) Occupying soldiers from outside of France witnessed this bizarre custom. Puzzled as to why the French would gift fish in such an elaborate way, they assumed it was some sort of prank. French soldiers also talked fondly of such traditions from back home as the bunkered down with allies in the trenches. Once the war was over and they returned to their home countries, the practice of pranking the ones you love stuck. However Fish Day is still celebrated today in France, but due to modern sensibility out has gone the practice of gifting real fish, and instead they use paper fish.

So if you take part in April Fool's Day just remember - it all started with fish. What are some of your favorite April Fools pranks? Let us know! Share your prank ideas on our facebook and twitter.

And as the french say today, "Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l'admire" Happy Fish Day! 

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