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What child hasn't played a joke on a classmate or teacher, or even been the butt of one himself on April 1st? Even the media on this day are wont to broadcasting fake news with the utmost seriousness. Because, on April 1st, the jokes are both many and countless. “April Fools!” (Or, "poisson d'avril!" in French), they cry out when the hoax is unveiled.
Originally, a new calendar
According to history, this tradition originated in France in 1564. Before this time, the first day of the year fell on April 1st (according to the Julian calendar, 25th March corresponded to New Year's Day), in relation to the Annunciation to Mary and the custom of exchanging gifts. This was a regular event until 1564 when King Charles IX of France decreed, by the Edict of Roussillon, that 1st January would mark the lengthening of the days and the first day of the year, replacing the end of March and the arrival of spring.
Resistants to the change
Subsequently, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII extended this measure to include all of Christianity and the use of the Gregorian calendar, which thus began the year on 1st January, spread around the world. However, it seems that resistants to the change at first stuck to the original tradition and continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1st. To make fun of them, some took advantage of the old tradition to exchange gifts as per usual, but gifts that were meant as jokes: a rope to tie up the wind, a strainer without holes, a key to the fields, a stick with only one end, etc.
The offering of fake fish
With April 1st usually falling at the end of Lent, a period of fasting during which Christians are forbidden from eating meat, fish was the present most often given. Thus the offering of fake fish and the famous "poisson d'avril" was born, the day for those who do not accept reality or see it differently…