May 1, 2023 by Patricia Sands Leave a Comment (Edit)
Happy May Day!
En France ~ Bonne fête du muguet! Bonne fête du travail! Bon premier Mai! Happy Labor Day! Happy first of May!
In many countries around the world, the first of May is a celebrated Labor Day. In France there’s a special twist to the holiday that I love.
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. 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!
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.
A few 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!
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?