In Celebration of La Fête du Muguet

May 01, 2019

May 1st

A day celebrated around the globe as May Day, but as well to many countries (France and Britain included) as Labor Day, as well as International Workers’ Day.

But we cannot forget that it is also the day to celebrate the exchanging of the Lily of the Valley bloom in France.

Lily of the Valley Day, also known as La Fête du Travail (National Labour Day), began with France’s King Charles IX on the first of May in 1561, who being more than somewhat superstitious, when upon receiving a muguet flower (lily of the valley) as a good luck charm, appreciated it so much that he decided to offer them to the ladies of his court in subsequent years on May 1st as a sign of bonne chance (good luck) and bonheur (happiness). And with that the annual traditional expression of good will began in France.

A flower that signifies many auspicious characteristics, the Celts have long considered the Lily of the Walley to be a symbol of spring, the time of renewal and luck as well.

As many of you may remember, Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, held a simple, yet stunning bouquet on her wedding day on April 29, 2011, and it consisted of primarily Lily of the Valley, of which many experts shared could have been harvested from an English country garden.

Audrey Hepburn was known to love the flower, and in fact as part of her wedding bouquet for her wedding to Mel Ferrer, they were included (as well as her bouquet in the film Funny Face). Grace Kelly on her wedding day, held a small, yet sophitciated cluster of Lily of Valley, whereas Princess Diana’s grand bouquet, while composed of many white varietals, included amongst it Lily of the Valley as well.

~Audrey Hepburn on her wedding day in 1954 with her first husband Mel Ferrer~
~Audrey Hepburn in the film Funny Face, 1957~
~Hepburn on the set of Funny Face~
~Grace Kelly on April 19, 1956~

With an abundance of history, beauty that is simple, yet spectacular in its unique way, and significance, understandably it is a favorite flower of many. And what better way to welcome in one of the most beautiful months of spring than with the giving of a spring or a bouquet of Lily of the Valley to a friend?

In fact, why not grow your own? (Note: They are poisonous plants, so do not let your pets or children, or you, yourself, nibble on them.) Still available, here are a few tubers to be enjoyed next year. And if you prefer to have your Lily of the Valley in a different form, perhaps a teacup and saucer or a teapot? Or as one TSLL reader shared, the scent of Lily of the Valley to spritz on your skin before heading out the door? Or a candle infused with the scent of theLily of the Valley? I have gathered a few things to peruse below.

~Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley Eau de Toilette~

Wishing you a lovely first day of May. Bonne journée.



14 thoughts on “In Celebration of La Fête du Muguet

  1. Lilly of the valley is my favorite, but sadly it is poisonous to dogs so I always play it safe and avoid planting it in my yard. Growing up my parents had a flower bed that ran the length of our house full of Lilly of the valley and I loved picking bouquets from it.

  2. Lily of the Valley reminds me of my childhood home. It ran along the length of our fence and I loved picking it to put in a vase in my bedroom every spring.

    1. There is a scent “Lilly of The Valley” by my favorite perfume brand, the British producer Penhaligon’s. Unfortunately I did not rebuy it, when mine was empty, which I am regretting a little right now, as it might not be something for all year round, but just perfect for this season… But for the fans of this flower, it might be a great choice!
      For all of you who have a free day on May 1st as we do have here in Germany: have a wonderful spring day! And all the others of course as well!
      Thank you so much, Shannon, for always reminding us to appreciate those small things!

      1. Thank you Hanna for introducing us to this scent. It sounds lovely. I have added to this post in case readers want to check it out. Enjoy your day and again, thank you for stopping by and sharing.

  3. Lily of the Valley takes me back to the garden of my childhood, I could almost smell the scent while reading your post. Isn’t it fascinating how scents or perfume can remind us of a time, place or person. Best wishes from the UK, Sue

  4. This is such a beautiful plant and what a nice article Shannon. I just looked it up to purchase it and found out it is highly poisonous. I have pets and kids visit my home. I would have to enjoy from afar 😫Thanks , Indiana

  5. There were TONS of these in my mother’s garden…they spread quickly & easily with little fuss from a gardener. I loved picking those long stems & placing them in water that we added food color to. Voila! Red striped, green striped. blue striped lilies of the valley. Green striped was/is my favorite.

    My mother could wear the perfume – it smelled heavenly on her, but doesn’t agree with my body chemistry, much to my disappointment.

    Lovely post – brings back fond memories.

  6. Lovely post Shannon on the beautiful muguet. The china you showed is exquisite.Today we exchanged and received little posies here in France. So delightful as it turned out to be a glorious day.It’s my favourite but I am biased as my birthday is on the 3rd😊

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