Poisson d’Avril: An April Fools Prank We Are Totally Hooked On


Photography by: Alexandra Churchill

April Fools’ Day is not just an American holiday. In fact, it’s celebrated all around the world.


While the origin of April Fools’ Day is uncertain, many believe that the pranking holiday originated in France around the 1550s when Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar, moving the start of the year from April 1 to January 1. People who clung to the old system and still celebrated the new year on the first of April quickly became the butt of jokes. Tricksters –- typically small children -– would surreptitiously pin paper fish to the backs of these “fools,” labeling them “April Fish” also known as “Poisson d’Avril.” Why fish? They were thought to symbolize someone gullible because they are so easily caught.


To this day, the tradition has persisted and is a favorite of French school children to prank unsuspecting adults. This was a favorite prank in my high school French class: we would decorate paper fish before taping them to the backs of unsuspecting friends and teachers, all in good fun. And everyone always had a good laugh over it.


Photography by: Alexandra Churchill

For a fun April Fools’ prank activity that you can do with your kids, decorate your own poisson d’Avril! Download our printable template, color with markers or colored pencils, and cut out using scissors. You can make a fishing line by taping colorful twine to the back of the fish’s smiling mouth. Then, all that’s left is to pick your prankee!


Print the Poisson d’Avril Coloring Template