Lily of the Valley Celebration

In France, May 1st is the day that workers’ rights are celebrated and the day people give each other lily of the valley.

Lily of the valley is a flower adorned with little white bell-shaped flowers and long green leaves. It blossoms in the Spring thus celebrates the return of beautiful weather.

In Ancient times, the Celts believed lilies of the valley brought luck. During the Renaissance, on May 1st, 1561, King Charles IX, received lucky lilies of the valley as a gift. Thereafter, he started a long tradition by giving lilies of the valley to all the dames of his court every May 1st.

Then, in 1889, unions proposed to make May 1st an official holiday, dedicated to demonstrations. Demonstrators wore a red triangle on their vest. It represented the division of the day in three parts: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure and 8 hours of sleep. The red triangle was then replaced by a flower, the red sweet briar rose.

In 1941, the government officially declared May 1st as the day to celebrate workers’ rights but since red was related to the left party, they definitely associated lily of the valley with the holiday.