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When January supersedes the fourth month of the year

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April’s Fool, a prank done on April 1st, comes from an act of the French sovereign, according to which King Charles IX decreed that the year had to start on January 1st and not on April 1st as it was the case up until then.

 The origin of April’s Fool: A serious matter indeed!

Catherine of Medicis, mother of young French King Charles IX, organizes a great tour of France to allow the young king discover the kingdom which had been deeply affected by the first war of religion. This major tour of France starts on January 24, 1564, in Paris, and ends in the capital on May 1st, 1566. Charles IX then observes that according to the dioceses, the New Year starts either on Christmas, March 1st, March 25th or on Easter. In a bid to end the confusion and normalize the year in the kingdom, he confirms Article 39 of the act of Saint-Germain given to Paris at the beginning of January 1563, which decrees that the year is to commence on January 1st. However, those who were unaware of this measure or who were just upset about it, continued to offer gifts and gratuities on April 1st. Some thought that it would be fun to offer fake gifts for fun. This tradition perpetuated and is today, a universal prank.

 

April 1st in the world: paper fish, fake “real” news…


 

Fishing is forbidden in France at the beginning of April because of the breeding season. Some had the brilliant idea to play tricks on the fishermen by offering them fake fish and exclaim in so doing, “April’s Fool!”

April is the month of fasting and thus, allows the consumption of fish. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was customary to send April’s Fool cards to each other. The card featured drawings of small fish, and wishes of love, friendship and happiness. Even if we do not put the heron in freshwater these days, it is common to stick a paper fish on the back of our “favourite victims” and laugh out loud until they realise the prank. If this prank has become a universal joke, broadcasting fake news on the radio, television or print media, has become a media tradition.

This said, April 1st is also an opportunity for other sectors to unleash their creativity. In 2018, firefighters of Paris tweeted that six of their experts were experimenting since February a new technique: skydiving to get closer to the flames when they cannot access the fires with their vehicles.  A video supported the prank and it went viral!

 

April 1st in Mauritius: Paper fish and media pranks

In Mauritius, generation after generation, young people still find paper fish fun. Mauritian media, regardless of the category, also buys into the April’s Fool and publishes or broadcasts outrageous pranks on April 1st whether by announcing fake political coalitions or that a football or cinema star is in country and residing in one of the resorts.