Le 1er mai: La Fête du Muguet et du Travail

Le 1er mai: La Fête du Muguet et du Travail

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Added by May 1, 2022

Salut! C’est le 1er mai. Learn all there is to know about the French Labor Day and “La Fête du Muguet”!

SALUT LES AMIS !

AUJOURD’HUI, C’EST LE PREMIER MAI. ET EN FRANCE, C’EST UN JOUR FÉRIÉ. ON AIME LES JOURS DE CONGÉ ! UN JOUR DE CONGÉ – a day off / UN JOUR FÉRIÉ – a holiday

Fête du Travail et Fête du Muguet

LE PREMIER MAI , C’EST LA FÊTE DU TRAVAIL. More like workers’ day, LA FÊTE DES TRAVAILLEURS. And guess what… it has its origins in the United States of America. I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, do you know what we also call LE 1ER MAI ?  LA FETE DU MUGUET POURQUOI?

PARCE QUE LE 1ER MAI LES FRANÇAIS S’OFFRENT DU MUGUET, UN BRIN DE MUGUET to be more specific. Cute, right !  We do that to celebrate the new season, LE PRINTEMPS, a time nature comes back to life and lilies of the valley bloom. And did you know that…

Why the French offer “du muguet” on Labor Day

LE MUGUET EST UN PORTE-BONHEUR DEPUIS L’ANTIQUITÉ. A legend says that Appolo covered Mount Parnassus with lilies of the Valley. He didn’t want his  muses to hurt their lovely feet going up LE MONT PARNASSE. QUEL ROMANTIQUE CET APPOLON !

POUR LES CELTES AUSSI, LE MUGUET ÉTAIT UN PORTE-BONHEUR. It helped to keep bad spirits away. ET DANS LA TRADITION CATHOLIQUE, LE MUGUET SYMBOLISE LE RENOUVEAU ET LA VIE. A first legend says lilies of the valley sprung from Marie’s tears fallen on the ground in front of the cross. Another legend says they sprung from Eve’s tears when she left Adam. Make your choice… 

AU MOYEN AGE, LE MUGUET DEVIENT LE SYMBOLE DE L’AMOUR. Thanks to another great romantic. Or great womanizer… CHARLES IX, ROI DE FRANCE, FILS DE CATHERINE DE MEDICIS. While he was traveling with his mother, someone offered him UN BRIN DE MUGUET, and he loved it so much (such a softie!) that the following spring, he gave out lilies of the valley to all the ladies of his court.

At the turn of the 20th century, fashion designers and stores started to offer UN BRIN DE MUGUET to ladies, starting off a yearly tradition. 

History: how did lilies of the valley were linked with Labor Day

Now, how did LA FÊTE DU MUGUET came to be associated with  LA FÊTE DU TRAVAIL ? Here we need to travel back in time to May 1st, 1886 in the United States. That day, American trade unions called for workers to go on strike and request an 8-hour day.  / FAIRE LA GRÈVE = to go on strike

The demonstrations were peaceful until May 3rd when they took a tragic turn.  Three workers were killed in Chicago at McCormick Harvester’s, and then an explosion happened and about 15 police officers were killed. A few workers were sentenced to a life in prison. The French trade unions wanted to show their solidarity and decided to make May 1st a workers’ day. Since then,  

LE 1ER MAI EST UNE JOURNEE DE REVENDICATIONS SOCIALES. C’EST LA JOURNÉE DES SYNDICATS DES TRAVAILLEURS. / UN SYNDICAT – a trade union / C’EST UNE JOURNÉE DE MANIFESTATIONS. / UNE MANIFESTATION – a demonstration

LE PREMIER MAI later became LA JOURNEE INTERNATIONALE DES TRAVAILLEURS or LA FETE DES TRAVAILLEURS. A tradition of yearly demonstrations soon started. And a flower, L’EGLANTINE ROUGE came to be the symbol of Labor Day. 

In 1941 Pétain declared May 1st «  LA FÊTE DU TRAVAIL ET DE LA CONCORDE SOCIALE ».  But he didn’t like the very left-wing red flower, so he decided to associate LE MUGUET, BLANC, to Labor Day. And that’s basically the story of  LE PREMIER MAI. 

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