Au mois de mai, fais ce qu’il te plait.
In the month of May do what your heart fancies.
So today I feel like sharing a little bit of French culture with you, the 1st of May is a public holiday in France for the Fête du Travail and the day you will find people offering Le Muguet (Lily of the Valley) to their friends, neighbours and acquaintances, a tradition that began during the Renaissance in 1561, when Charles IX offered them to his subjects as a symbol of porte-bonheur or good luck.
Now associated with the Fête du Travail on 1 May, anyone can sell the flower on the street without requiring a licence or permission. Today I walked into the centre-ville and came across many people who are spending their day, sharing the magic of Le Muguet with the public.
The first year I came to live in France, I learned of the tradition when my next door neighbour knocked on the door and presented me with this delightful flower, explaining its significance.
Six months into adapting to this life, language and culture, it was a welcome gesture and reminded me how important it is to reach out to others, even if they appear to be coping, we can all do with a little ‘porte-bonheur’ from time to time.
And in the spirit of acknowledgement and small celebrations, congratulations to Juliet Greenwood whose book ‘Eden’s Garden’ has been named ‘Welsh Book of the Month’ for May 2012, a sprig of ‘Lily of the Valley’ for you Juliet. To celebrate she is giving away a free signed copy of her book, click here to enter.
Finally, with Spring emanating everywhere, I thought I’d share my recent discovery and purchase of a book of 12 stamps (un carnet de timbres), with its theme ‘the language of flowers’, I hope you can guess the English equivalent:
Le Langage des fleurs
Pensée / Affection
Arum / Ardeur
Muguet / Bonheur
Tulipe / Amour
Violette / Modestie
Iris / Tendresse
Œillet / Fidélité
Rose / Passion
Pivione / Générosité
Marguerite / Attirance
Dahlia / Admiration