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By Marie-José O’Sullivan
In France, the 1st of May is a public holiday known as La Fête du Travail (May Day or Labour Day). To celebrate this day, it is traditional to offer loved ones a few sprigs of lily of the valley (du muguet), symbol of spring and of good luck.
This charming gesture dates from the 16th century, when the king of France Charles IX began offering lily of the valley to the ladies of the court on the 1st of May. The legend goes that if you get two or three sprigs with no fewer than 13 little bells, you will be particularly lucky in happiness.
In fact, La Fête du Travail wasn’t always marked on the 1st of May. In 1793, the 1er pluviôse (the 20th of January) of the revolutionary calendar was selected for the celebration. This practice lasted only a few years, however, and towards the end of the 19th century, the 1st of May, came to be associated with La Fête du Travail in France, as well as in many countries internationally. In 1929 in France, the 1st of May was designated a public holiday. However, it wasn’t until 1948 that May 1st officially became known as La Fête du Travail. A holiday with its very own signature scent!
Donc, nous vous souhaitons une bonne fête du muguet et bonne chance tout au long de l’année !
Born and educated in Bordeaux, Marie José taught French in London, Madrid and Bilbao at the Berlitz school, then worked as a temporary secondary-school teacher in Cork. She is the second most senior teacher of the Alliance Française de Cork, having joined the team in 1988. As a certified examiner of DELF & DALF, she enjoys teaching adults from beginners to higher advanced as well as secondary-level students.