Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valleyAlthough it was pretty early when I left home this morning, there were people on the sidewalks already, at every street corner. You may find it strange to hear that Frenchmen were awake early on the morning of a national holiday, especially on May Day: it is also Labour Day in France and many countries, a day where most people don't work then. There was good reason for it though: these people were vendors of lilies of the valley.

Lily of the valley, “le muguet”, is not any flower for the French. Although it is native to Japan, it became acclimated to Western Europe many centuries ago. In medieval France, it was considered the symbol of spring and nature's revival, and the emblem of a joyous, more-or-less pagan holiday, celebrating the return of nice weather and promises of spring's planting, and seeking Heaven's favour for harvests to come.

On May first, 1561, after he was given a sprig of Lily of the valley as a lucky charm, French King Charles IX decided he would give a sprig to every lady in his court on May 1st, every year from then on. A tradition was born. In France, is not permitted to sell things in the streets without a licence, but this is an exception: thanks to the nice tradition, everyone, not only florists, is allowed to sell lily of the valley in French streets on May Day.

Everywhere today, you will see people clutching their lily of the valley, to be offered to their wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, parents, dinner host, boss, secretary, and so forth. As for me, I bought a couple of flowers this morning, and picked the sprig above on the internet for you. Happy May Day, and Good Luck!

3 comment(s):

    Thanks Billy! That's really sweet of you to think of your blogging buddies! Happy May Day to you too!


    May day! Besos y abrazos!


    You're very welcome, Lynn!
    Besos y abrazos, Vanessa, desde el otro lado del Atlántico!


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