Today is the first of May, the day when we give and receive little bouquets of muguets -- Lily of the valley- to our loved ones. With this we wish them luck, a tradition which goes all the way back to the time of the Renaissance.
Charles1X was said to have been so touched on receiving a spring of this delicate flower as a good luck charm that he decided to give one to each of the ladies of the court. Thus started the tradition of La fête du Muguets.
Small and white with clusters of little bells, these lilies, also known as thrush have a most provocative and unique smell. And most important they herald the coming of spring.
The thrush plant grows almost everywhere in France except in the Mediterranean regions.
This cute tradition is also a business affair. According to statistics the French spent 25.5 million euros last year buying the flowers from the florists, the supermarkets markets and street vendors; selling muguets in the street is accepted on May 1.
The quality of the plant was excellent this year and those selling worked hard at presentation, combining the flowers with roses all set in beautiful baskets and pottery.
Single strands can also be sold but must be wrapped in cellophane or wax paper.
The lily of the valley is also known as our lady’s tears; legend has it that the tears Mary shed at the cross turned into lilies of the valley.The flowers are used in the perfume business; diorissimo, introduced in 1956 is perhaps one of the best and most successful examples.
I love this custom, even though it falls on Labour Day, a national holiday celebrating the cause of labour, I prefer to see this charming custom more as a time of merriment, a promise of perfect months to come.
Happy May 1 to all.