May 1st is a holiday in many countries of the world. I only learned of this because of my studies in French. In France it’s almost equivalent to our Valentine’s Day. It is also similar to our Labor day. It is called La Fête du Muguet (The holiday of the Lily of the Valley) and La Fête du Travail (The holiday of Work).
This history behind La Fête du Muguet goes back to May 1, 1561, when King Charles IX was presented with lily of the valley flowers. He like them so much he decided to give lily of the valley flowers to all the women at his court every year on May 1st. Then, around 1900, men in France started giving bouquets, plants or sprigs of lily of the valley flowers to their sweethearts as a token of their affection. Today, is has taken a new meaning in France, as friends and loved ones express their appreciation for one another by giving each other these flowers. Families with children, who live in the country, go out to the woods to pick the flowers in the morning. During the Renaissance, the lily of the valley became a symbol for good luck and is a symbol of springtime. You can find vendors selling these flowers on almost every street corner.
I fell in love with this French tradition. I would have liked to follow here myself, but that didn’t work out. Lily of the Valley flowers are delicate and not often seen here in New York City. I had to look up a picture online to see what they look like. I tried to grow some once, but it wasn’t happening. I didn’t take it personally because I have a “black” thumb and somehow kill every plant I have ever owned, including cactus plants. No plant is safe around me.
Because it is also labor day, all businesses are closed and parades and demonstrations are held to campaign for the rights of workers.
So I pass this little information on to you. Now, whenever May 1st rolls around, you may think of the lily of the valley and the French tradition, as I do every year. And, if you want to try growing some, you may be luckier than I was.
Happy May Day!