Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paris Win: May Day in France

To have a reason to buy flowers is almost a ridiculous concept.  Who needs a reason to bring something beautiful and cheerful into the world?  Not me.  Not you.  No one.  But sometimes it’s nice to have a little push.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy smells sprigs of Lily ...
Even the President stops to smell the...lilies.

May 1st is May Day, a sort of Labor Day in France (on Sunday?) and while many stores and museums are closed, the flower sellers are out and about.  Organizations like the Red Cross are selling their lilies of they valley on the street, a tradition that dates back to the French royal court in the 16th century.

The lily of the valley is steeped in tradition, and apparently the flower was first grown from the tears of Eve when she was banished from the Garden of Eden.  Other legends say that the flowers grew from the tears of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross.

Both stories are depressing and should be forgotten.

Flowers.  Just.  Everywhere.
But King Charles IX apparently was given the flower as a lucky charm, and, smitten by the gesture, gave the flowers to all of the women of the court so that they could all get lucky on May 1st…awkward, but much sweeter than virgin tears at an execution. 

The idea, however, of selling flowers in the street on May 1st, I’m down with it.  Why not every day?  Why should we ever need a reason to treat ourselves with a little bouquet?  I guess we can start with May 1st and work our way to the other 364 days.  It’s only a matter of time, I suppose. 

4 comments:

  1. I knew I could count on your for the historical framework of the day. As well as a killer shot of Sarko. :)

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  2. i can't tell if that is my barefoot flower boyfriend or a woman .... problem.

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  3. L, what better way to celebrate any day than with a bit of history? Well, and with flowers, of course...

    And B, it's not that hard...

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  4. It's because of Front Populaire, the left-wing united government in the 30s in France,that turned May the 1st in a "communist" holiday : la fête du travail. Hence the flower can be sold by anyone with no taxes. It's more like a "flower street shop day" that would be illegal rest of the time...

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