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Happy First of May from France

Picture source: Yamaken

I adore that lilies-of-the-valley are sold all over France on the 1st of May. During my first Labor Day in France, I found myself amazed at the number of people standing on the sides or corners of the streets selling these beautiful and delicate flowers. I thought it charming and sweet. I still do.

Here is some history behind the tradition of offering a lily-of-the-valley on May 1st and origins of this national holiday:

A long-lived pagan custom was to plant an adorned tree on that day to celebrate the return of spring. For the Catholic Church it is the first day of the month of the Virgin. But by far, all over France, it is the succession of the “Workers’ protest Day” (1889-1947) which officially became Labor Day, la fête du travail, in 1947. The typically French custom on 1er mai is to offer blossoming lily-of-the-valley to bring luck. For the whole day anyone is allowed to sell lilies-of-the-valley without a vendor’s license. The fragrant can, therefore, be bought at every street corner.

Source: Embassy of France website

Please visit Spirit of Paris to see a beautiful picture capturing this special day. Spirit of Paris is one of my favorite photoblogs. Take a look around while you are there visiting and I am sure it will become one of yours as well.

Another wonderful blog I recommend that you visit if you would like to see beautiful pictures of Paris and read today’s post about May 1st in France is parisdailyphoto.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • cj May 1, 2006, 3:57 pm

    Beautiful picture and story. I would love to see that in France myself someday. ;)

  • L'Amerloque May 1, 2006, 7:11 pm

    Hi Pumpkin !

    Don’t forget that the lily-of-the-valley is poisonous, so you do want to keep it out of the reach of children !


  • Pumpkin May 1, 2006, 7:36 pm

    Thank you, L’Amerloque! I didn’t know that. I will make sure that the girls don’t get near the flowers. Or, better yet just get rid of the flowers. :)

  • carra May 1, 2006, 8:32 pm

    I never liked 1st of May because for me it acosiated with comunism and USSR (not te best memories I promise), but after reading your article it made me think about it and I think the tradition is beautiful! Great article Pupkin!

  • Eric at Paris Daily Photo May 1, 2006, 11:02 pm

    Thanks for the link! The 1st of May is special in many ways, but the photos of muguet circulating on blogs today makes it even nicer. Now, I didn’t know it was poisonous….are you sure?

  • christina May 2, 2006, 7:18 am

    Ah, lily-of-the-valley is one of my very favourite flowers, not just because my birthday is in May. :-) I didn’t know about the French custom – thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Pumpkin May 2, 2006, 8:01 am

    Eric, I just did a quick search on google and L’Amerloque is absolutely correct. http://tinyurl.com/nr45f
    I didn’t know that myself and will need to watch the girls at my inlaws because there is some in the backyard. Funny that such a beautiful flower is poisonous (according to the website I found the entire plant is). You are welcome for the link. Your blog is a pleasure to visit. I learn all about Paris every day.

    Christina, You are welcome and happy birthday – early! :)

    CJ – It is not too expensive to visit if you come during the off season. If you travel before June and I think after Sept. it is around 600 dollars a person. You can find a nice hotel in the center of Paris if you know where to look at around 60-80 dollars a night and out of Paris it is cheeper. Here in Strasbourg there are hotels for as low as 40 Euro a night. I know that adds up to around 2000 dollars for 7 nights at 60 bucks a night on average and 1300 for two tickets. I would say 2300 – 3000 for everything (to be on the safe side) depending on how big a spender you were. You could always play the google game for the Da Vinci code. I started it even if I am not allowed because I love games. I will quit before I can win anything if it were to happen. I am not allowed to play since I am no longer an American resident. :(

  • L'Amerloque May 2, 2006, 8:07 am

    Hi Eric !

    /*/Now, I didn’t know it was poisonous….are you sure?/*/

    Absolutely. (smile)

    “The leaves and flowers contain cardiac glycosides that have been used in medicine for centuries. In overdose preparations can be poisonous; pets and children can be harmed by eating Lily of the Valley.”

    Here’s the link to Wiki …



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