May 1st: Lilies of the Valley for Labor Day


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Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2008

Today is a holiday for everyone except those in the restaurant business. This year May 1st turns out to be a double-header – two holidays wrapped into one, Ascension Thursday and the Fete du Travail,or the Worker’s Holiday. I’ve always associated this European holiday with parades in Moscow’s Red Square. Guess that’s because I’m and a product of the ‘Cold War Era’ Actually, May 1st Labor Day was inspired by an event in Chicago.

The important thing to remember about May 1st if you’re visiting Paris is that banks and government offices will be closed. Many businesses will be closed except for restaurants which tend to do a brisk business between May 1st and Pentecost Sunday.

If you’re in Paris on May 1st, you’ll note that most of the florists are selling lily of the valley. This is the traditional flower friends offer friends for good luck and the return of happiness (and hopefully the return of sunny weather).

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In France, bringing a bouquet of flowers when you’re invited for dinner is always a good gesture. You might want to brush up on your flower language before you choose a bouquet.

For example, if you’re visiting a married couple, you might want to avoid bringing a bouquet of yellow roses. Yellow roses are offered to a spouse as an apology for infidelity. Friends who give yellow roses are saying ‘keep alert!’. (These aren’t hard and fast rules – in fact, many people no longer bother with the symbolism of flowers, and the florist is unlikely to discourage you from buying yellow flowers).

But here are the general rules regarding roses:
# Rose
White Rose – Pure Love
Blue Rose – Mystery, Achieve the impossible.
Yellow Rose – Infidelity
Lavender rose – Lovestruck, Head over heels in love.
Pink rose – I love you truly
Red rose – Passionate, a dozen red roses – marriage proposal
Red & whtie roses – living together – platonic love
Green roses – prosperity

>> More on the Language of Flowers