At Fleurs de Villes our motto is “Flowers make us happy,” so what better flower to feature in May than the lily of the valley, which blooms wild in the European woodlands in early spring, when the weather is warming up and the lure of long, happy summer days is on the horizon. With its dainty, white, bell-shaped flowers, it is also referred to as “our lady’s tears,” referring to the Virgin Mary at the cross. Lily of the valley were grown by monks to decorate their altars, calling them “Ladder to Heaven,” for the way the flowers climb up the stem. The flower’s pure white blooms and bowed head was seen as a symbol of chastity; however, in floral folklore, the alluring green jasmine-like fragrance of the lily of the valley was also said to lure the nightingale from his nest in the springtime and lead him to his mate.
In France, lily of the valley (or muguet in French) has been given as a gift for centuries. Legend has it that the custom began on May 1, 1561 when King Charles IX received a sprig of the tiny flower as a token of good luck. The King liked the idea so much that he decided to start a tradition. From that day forward on the first of May, he presented a bouquet of lilies of the valley to each of the ladies of his court. And thus began the Fête du Muguet, otherwise known as May Day in France.