Lily of the Valley on May 1 ! (National France holiday)
There are no less than five national holidays in France in May, when many business close for the day. If you are planning a trip to France this month make sure you know when they are so you don’t get caught out !
If you’re shortly spending time in France, be aware that May has many a national holiday, with no less than five taking place this month. Though one falls on a sunday, you may find that on the other days a number of businesses including shops, banks, post offices and even cafés and restaurants are closed for the occasion.
"Fête du Travail", 1 May : or Labour Day
the first is on Friday 1 May – the "Fête du Travail" or Labour Day, which celebrates the introduction of the eight-hour working day in 1919. Another celebration falls on 1 May; the "Fête du Muguet", when tradition dictates that loved ones are presented with a sprig of lily of the valley as a good luck charm !
You can buy some for 2 euros pretty much along every street! Non professionals are normally supposed to pick lilies of the valley in the forest or at their home, at least that's what law says! But in reality (just as professionals) they get their supplies at Rungis wholesale market (a famous wholesaler in France).
King Charles IX of France was presented with lily of the valley flowers on May 1, 1561. He liked the gift and decided to present lily of the valley flowers to the ladies of his court each year on May 1. Around 1900, men started to present a bouquet of lily of the valley flowers to women to express their affection. The flowers are a more general token of appreciation between close friends and family members these days.
The eight-hour working day was officially introduced in France on April 23, 1919, and May 1 became a public holiday called Fête internationale des Travailleurs (International Worker's Day). During World War II, the Vichy regime renamed the holiday to Fête du Travail et de la Concorde sociale(Work and Social Unity Day). Between 1944 and 1947, there was no holiday on May 1. It officially became known as La Fête du Travail (Labor Day) on April 29, 1948. Since then, it has been an occasion to campaign for and celebrate workers' rights. The day is also known as Labor Day in other parts of the world.