Why the first of May will be your lucky day in France

TO KNOW | FRENCH HOLIDAY

Today is May first, a public holiday in France. As in many other countries around the world. Also known as International Workers’ Day, or May Day, the first of May is commemorated since the late 1800s. On 1 May 1886, the American unions called over 400,000 workers to demonstrate for the eight-hour working day. This way it would make the partition of the day fairer: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of free time.

Muguet

In France, it is also an age-old tradition to give a “muguet”, or lily-of-the-valley, to the one you love. Ever since the Celts, this flower announces spring and would bring luck. Since the Renaissance, on May 1, 1561 to be precise, King Charles IX of France officially began to give a muguet to his ladies-in-waiting. On this day, he himself got a muguet as a good-luck charm. He thought this was such a nice gesture that he wanted to repeat this every year. And thus a new tradition was born.

Happiness and good health

Nowadays, giving a lily-of-the-valley to the one you love is still an existing habit in France. The receiver will have a year full of happiness and good health. It is also said that fate is extra favourable to the one who gets 13 flowers on the twig. Hence you will see many stalls around selling muguets. From a simple twig to complete bouquets including lily-of-the-valley. Simply saying that you wish the receiver all the best: “To say that you want somebody all the right: “Je porte bonheur”. So far the romantic side of the flower. Please be careful with small children, because everything on this sweet flower is very poisonous, even the water in the vase!

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