The 1st of May is May Day in Normandy and throughout France.
It is a public holiday to celebrate labour day and is known as La Fête du Travail. It celebrates workers rights and the majority of shops and even tourist attractions are closed today.
It is also associated with an old lily of the valley tradition. If someone offers you a sprig of lily of the valley, then you should accept it to bring good luck.
A sprig of lily of the valley is known as a brin de muguet. The tradition dates back to 1st May 1561 during the reign of King Charles IX. The king had received a sprig himself and decided to return the gesture. He therefore offered the flower to every lady in his court.
This tradition continues today as small bouquets are given to friends and family. Charities and labour organisations are allowed to sell bouquets of lily of the valley, tax-free, on the street on 1st May. They must, however, respect certain regulations.
If you’re visiting France and are wondering why there’s so much lily of the valley around, then now you know. Happy May Day from Normandy!
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