april fish!

Happy April Fool’s Day! If you’re English, you’ve only got till noon to play your tricks or you’re the fool.

If you’re over the channel, your day may involve April Fish, usually made of paper and attached to someone’s back when they aren’t looking. One theory behind this tradition is that the date falls in Lent, when eating fish would be banned, so tricking someone into eating it would be particularly harsh. Another theory is that Pisces is the ruling zodiac sign today. Whatever the original cause, the culprit would be left feeling like a fish out of water, but once they saw something fishy was going on, they’d soon find other fish to fry.

The Italian pesce d’aprile is explained delightfully by school children, as illustrated here:


An Italian fish idiom for today: chi dorme non piglia pesce (“the sleeping person doesn’t catch any fish”), i.e. the early bird catches the worm.

Flemish aprilvis has a longer artistic tradition. A Flemish fish idiom for today: achter het net vissen (“to fish behind the net”), i.e. to miss an opportunity, as immortalised by Brueghel.


French poisson d’avril postcards like this one were popular at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries and are now collectors’ items:


A French fish idiom for today: noyer le poisson (“to drown the fish”), i.e. to totally confuse someone.

I’m not going to fish for compliments, but this post was fun to write, so I hope you had fun reading it.

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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Posted in April Fool's Day, international, language, words

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