Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1st


     The month of May is chock full of holidays here in France, and as if that wasn't enough, strikes are also common (and in my opinion, even celebrated). I am assuming the thinking is if Tuesday is a holiday, we should strike on Monday so we have 4 consecutive days off. Hey, that is just my opinion though, so who knows. And since May is usually the time we are getting everything organized and packing up to head back to the States for the summer, we become well aware of these holidays/strikes since many of the businesses we find ourselves in need of, are closed. We have come to expect far less from May than the other months...and so far we haven't been let down. Shaun's team didn't have balls for their practice...yes, you read that right, no basketballs for a basketball team. The balls had been taken from one gym to another and never returned....the end is near, thankfully. So why am I writing this you ask?  Well today kicks off the May holiday season with 'La Fête du Travail' or 'La Fête du Muguet'. 'La Fête du Travail' translates roughly into Labor day or Labor celebration. It is a holiday to campaign for and celebrate workers rights (and for what I interpret it as, being thankful for the ability to strike over... anything). Today, everything will pretty much be closed through out France. However, you will notice people selling little flowers road side all over town. Most likely they are selling little bouquets of "Lily-of-the-valley" or Muguet as it is called in french. So that is where we get 'La Fête du Muguet'. For the last 8 or 9 years we have always noticed this but never knew the background as to why this happens. So with a little research I finally found the origin of this tradition for the French, et Bonne Fête du Travail tout le monde.

-On May 1st 1561, King Charles IX of France received a Lily-of the-valley for good luck.

-He then decided to give each of the ladies of the court one as well and a tradition was born that you were to give a kiss in return for receiving one....hmmmm, sneaky and clever.

-Around the beginning of the 20th century, it became a widespread tradition to give a lily-of-the-valley on May 1st (symbolizing springtime).

-It is more customary around Paris but we have seen them sold roadside in many of the cities we have resided in over the past 11 years (and I can tell you there were loads at our grocery store yesterday).
{One of many little bouquets I saw at the grocery store...'Je porte Bonheur' translates into "I bring good luck'

-Today is the only day where anyone can sell flowers with out a permit, so everyone and anyone gets in on the action.

-While it is still used in the 'romantic' sense, it is also exchanged between friends and family members.

 -Some families forgo buying the sprigs and instead, descend into wooded areas and pick their own, which I think is such a cute idea I may try to persuade Shaun to meander out with me later today (I might need to bring a sprig for good luck when I ask him though...).

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