Happy May Day! I don’t often repost posts but here’s one I published previously.
May 1st is a special day in France. It’s a holiday, a day off work. May Day is also known in France as the Fête du Travail
It is also la Fête du Muguet, when it’s traditional to give loved ones a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of spring and of good luck.
The tradition of offering small bunches of Lily of the Valley, le muguet, to friends and family, as a good luck charm, apparently dates back to the Renaissance. Charles IX gave the flower to the ladies of his court and decreed on May 1st, 1561, that anyone in France can legally sell flowers without a license, on May day, as long as they are a reasonable distance from the nearest flower shop.
I have also read that the lily of the valley flowers sprung from Eve’s tears when she was forced to leave the Garden of Eden. Elsewhere it is said that the flower comes from the tears of the Virgin Mary when she cried at the Crucifixion.
The photo below is of some lily of the valley growing in my garden. It looks a bit sad, at the moment! if you would like to see some more stunning photos of lily of the valley, follow the link to my Pinterest board.
Especially if you’re in France! May starts with a Bank Holiday and there are several more to follow. On May 1st there is the celebration of not only Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) but also La Fête du Muguet. This translates as Lily of the Valley Day.
I have written about these celebrations before!
The next Bank Holiday takes place on the 8th May and is to commemorate the end of World War II in France. It is known as ‘La Fête de la Victoire’ and is celebrated with parades and religious ceremonies. Traditionally, the French president lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lights the flame at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I was quite surprised that our local supermarket had a ‘special’ opening on that day.
The final Bank Holiday is on the 25th May; Ascension Day which falls on a Thursday. As a result, many people take a day of their annual leave on the Friday to be able to take a four-day weekend. This is known as a ‘pont’ or a bridge. It is quite usual to hear the phrase ‘faire le pont’.
And, then there’s Eurovision! No Bank Holiday for this, of course, but all part of the May madness. I did watch it when we were here last year as I wanted to see what it would be like without Graham Norton. This year I managed to
avoid miss the contest somehow. I must admit that I do like the French entry which came twelfth. It’s by a singer called Alma and the title is ‘Requiem’ . This video of the song is worth watching for the background shots of Paris:
Are you a Eurovision fan? I’d love to know…
How lovely to be in France on the 1st May!
Traditionally, this day is a Bank Holiday but as it falls on a Sunday, this year, there will be no day off for the workers.
Another tradition is to offer bunches of Lily of the Valley – le muguet – to family, friends and loved ones, to bring them happiness and luck.
Monsieur Fancying France gave me the bunch that you can see in the photo. I am very pleased!