Years ago a French friend told me about the French tradition of giving Lily of the Valley on May 1 or May Day. I found it so charming I have adopted it myself. One of the people I gave lily of the valley to today asked about the origins of the tradition. I didn’t know, so I looked it up and posted below Wikipedia’s explanation. There are many European traditions for May Day listed on Wikipedia but I copied below the origins of the French tradition.
At brunch today when I gave my friend the lily of the valley, two waitresses were over in a minute cooing over the flowers, saying it reminded them of home, so I split my last bunch and left two smaller bunches for them on the table. Now one more person to give too, but he will have to wait until Tuesday…bendng tradtion a bit but I imagine it will always be nice to receive a bunch of these fragrant gems.
On May 1st, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom on the 1st of May, to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime. The government permits individuals and workers’ organisations to sell them free of taxation. It is also traditional for the lady receiving the spray of lily of valley to give a kiss in return. Now, people may present loved ones with bunches of lily of valley.
They always make a wonderful bouquet for Mothers Day! In white or lesser known lavender.