Today, May 1st, all over France, there are vendors everywhere crying "Muguet Porte Bonheur!". People are buying little sprigs of Muguet, or Lillies of the Valley. The phrase is translated, "Lillies of the Valley bring good luck!"
But that good luck is not meant to be hoarded. You must give the flowers to someone as a symbol of friendship, of solidarity, a wish for their good luck and happiness in the coming year.
This is a custom that dates back to the Middle Ages but in reality, dates back to pre christian times when on May 1st, the Celts celebrated the feast Beltrane.
The lore of the flower claims that besides good luck, good cheer and protecting the garden from evil spirits, Muguet will also improve the memory.
As it is, Muguet seems to always come into bloom on May Ist. As I cleared my property, in the last few years, a small patch of Muguet has appeared and begun to revitalize itself, now that it gets light. It apparently has been here for many years, so I had a few sprigs of the white highly perfumed little flowers to give friends.
May 1st, of course is also the Workers Day here. As we head into the 2nd yer of Nicolas Sarkozy's regime, this holiday has taken on a greater significance than it has in recent years.
May is the month of holidays and it is always important to "make the bridge" so to speak. Take a holiday and turn it into a 3 day weekend. Today in cities across France on this beautiful May Day, there are millions demonstrating in the streets. There were over a million in Paris alone. The mood of discontent and anger with the government is rising daily. Civil disobedience has become more than a protest, it is the new way of life. Some of the disobedience has become very creative and playful; groups of people with bull horns invading the great supermarkets, Les Grands Surfaces, and announcing a picnic and distributing and consuming the food off of the shelves to protest the out of control and bizarre food pricing practices.
Some is very serious; doctors helping patients get around beauracracy roadblocks by simply lying, networks of a humaniarian "resistance" movement taking families with out proper papers into hiding in their own homes at risk of prosecution to prevent deportations.
Railroad and transit employees ignoring people who try to snatch free rides on the trains and subways. Transportation is expensive and vital, but impossible if you are poor.
Some disobedience is a matter of showing a cruel corporation who really holds the power when workers are laid off without negotiation. Simply take the management hostage and force them to negotiate. This happening daily here.
Yet, everyone, in the midst of all the struggle, on the avenues of the protesting cities, on a neighborhood street, a walk down a lane to a friends house, everyone has the time and the urge to carry a little bouquet of Muguets to a friend and wish them Good Luck!
Consider this post and picture a virtual sprig of Muguet which I give to you.