Find the answers to many of your expat questions here

View Latest Posts

You're missing out...

As a member you can enjoy exclusive info and offers.


lily of the valley

Posted by calcalino - Created: 15 years ago
0 0
Sorry no image available

8 replies (Showing replies: 1 to 8)

Sorry no image available
Posted by TonyP-191937 - 15 years ago

In Brussels the custom of planting the tree still goes on, and very pagan it is too! 

The tree is called the "Maiboom" or May-tree in Flemish. There is a procession to carry the Maiboom to its site in the centre of Brussels and there is a small circular patch of ground reserved for the planting.

The Belgians have the same custom of offering Lily of the Valley for luck.

My understanding was that the 1st May has always been a pagan festival and therefore a good date for a holiday, but that it was made "Workers' Day" in order to avoid offending the Church.

I am sure the Muguet is Lily of the Valley, but the perhaps the species has evolved a bit since MikeP was a lad.

It is poisonous as it happens, so perhaps there is some ulterior motive as to why men offer it to the womenfolk.



Sorry no image available
Posted by pjd-185342 - 15 years ago

Hi All,Found this on the French Embassy site:" MAY 1ST: LABOR DAY AND A GOOD LUCK FLOWERA holiday of several meanings, always a legal holiday.A long-lived pagan custom was to plant an adorned tree on that day to celebrate the return of spring. For the Catholic Church it is the first day of the month of the Virgin. But by far, all over France, it is the succession of the "Workers' protest Day" (1889-1947) which officially became Labor Day, la fête du travail, in 1947.The typically French custom on 1er mai is to offer blossoming lily-of-the-valley to bring luck. For the whole day anyone is allowed to sell lilies-of-the-valley without a vendor's license. The fragrant can, therefore, be bought at every street corner."Sorted it out for me I guess.....

Sorry no image available
Posted by Chatterbox-190278 - 15 years ago

I received muguet from a French friend and personally I prefer this explanation:

Le 1er mai c'est une coutume, on offre à tous ceux qu'on aime un brin de muguet. On espère qu'il portera bonheur jusqu'au 1er mai suivant!



Sorry no image available
Posted by MikeP-180526 - 15 years ago

I am not sure if those flowers they sell at the roadside are Lily of the Valley (although it does translate as 'Lis des Vallees' it looks different to what I remember in UK).

There is some info here:


Sorry no image available
Posted by pjd-185342 - 15 years ago

Actually I thought it was in celebration of International Workers' Day. May 1st is a day for celebration of all workers and their struggle for fair employment opportunities and working conditions.At least that's why we fork out for yet another commercial appropriation of a date which once meant something.......

Sorry no image available
Posted by calcalino - 15 years ago


calcalino (not now puzzled)

Sorry no image available
Posted by davidl-181802 - 15 years ago

Im finally getting the hang of that tradition :) Every 1st of May I get these looks from my Fiancé as we look at the flowers. Took me a little while to twig onto it :)

Sorry no image available
Posted by NadiaG-192314 - 15 years ago

it's a French tradition to give lily of the Valley on the 1st of May. It brings luck!