It’s May Day ~ France does it best!

Happy May Day …

Bonne fête du muguet!

I recycle this post every year because I don’t want to change anything about it. If you read it last year … or the year before , I hope you enjoy it again. Listen to the cheerful May 1st video and do a happy dance! And if you can find some Lily of the Valley to give to a friend, all the better.

En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait!

Provençal proverb ~ In May, do what pleases you!

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Here’s my May 1st muguet to each of you.

Every May 1st I like to share one of my favourite traditions in France ~ La Fête du Travail or La Fête du Muguet. The day is a national holiday ~ International Workers’ Day, like Labour Day in North America. But more than that it is an occasion when people give little bouquets or sprigs or pots of  le muguet (lily of the valley) to each other. Like so many of the things we love about France, the tradition has lasted for centuries. It began in 1561, during the Renaissance.

Click here to read an excellent article by Margo Lestz,  about this sweet tradition and all the history behind it.

Here’s another post about the tradition from Kristin Espinasse, everyone’s favourite scribe of daily French life.

Three years ago, my husband and I had just finished a magical stay (but then isn’t it always?) in Paris and the Loire Valley. We were driving south to the Dordogne region on May 1st and in every town, big or small, this was the scene. Even on a drizzly day. I loved it!

Dordogne and Les Muguets

Dordogne and Les Muguets 2

Dordogne and Les Muguets - Version 2

Obviously, young or old, everyone puts a lot of thought into this tradition.

A vivid memory of that rainy morning, is of an elderly woman sitting under an umbrella beside her small stand of bouquets of muguets. It wasn’t an appropriate picture to take … and no time to stop in the midst of traffic … but I’ve never forgotten the image. Does this happen to you sometimes when you travel? Your eye is the shutter and a particular image is captured forever in your memory?

Le muguet or lily of the valley represents a porte bonheur, a good luck charm, to special people in your life.  I am offering one to each of you.

Does your culture or country have a special May 1st tradtion?

About Patricia Sands

Family, writing and travel are my passions ... okay, and chocolate ... and I'm seldom without a camera. I write women's fiction and keep in touch with readers by a monthly newsletter that also has giveaways and contests. Come and join us by signing up on the right. See you there!


  1. Yes, France does do this one best. Thanks for the memories!

  2. Kimble Mead says

    MAY DAY is LEI DAY in Hawaii. A tourist promotion staeted I think in the 1920’s by one Don Blandings. You are supposed to get lei’d by the one you love.Aloha from Maui.

  3. It looks a bit chilly there still, but the flowers make everything cheery, and we know spring is here.

    • Patricia Sands says

      Well, that was three years ago and it was a short-lived cold patch. Today I’m in Collingwood (two hours north of Toronto) and we had snow Saturday night. Some ski runs were open last weekend … the latest ever!

  4. A lovely, lovely post. 🙂

  5. I love this tradition! Very nice.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  6. What a delightful post! It made me smile all day! Next year I will be prepared and will offer my customers little poseys when they come into my French/European store. Thank you for such a lovely article!

    • Patricia Sands says

      How nice to connect with you here, Tracey … a true Francophile. I just visited your lovely website and read the article in which you were featured. It sounds like you have created the perfect marriage of your history, interests and talents. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post.

  7. That’s a lovely tradition. I wish we did something gentle and sweet like that in the U.S. Thanks for sharing this, Patricia.

  8. So pretty!

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