‘Il est revenu le temps du muguet,’ sang the lovely French singer Française Danielle Darrieux in 1959.
The May-bell (‘le muguet’) season has returned – hooray!
In France, the land of love, that’s a moment of joy.
In France it is traditional for men to give their beloved a bouquet of my flowers on the first of May
and to wear a sprig of my flowers in their own buttonhole as a porte-bonheur, a good luck charm.
The tradition began in the 16th century, when – as the story goes – the young King Charles IX visited the south of France and was given a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley to wish him prosperity and success in the year to come.
He was so touched by this gesture that he decided to give the same present to all his ladies-in-waiting every year on May 1st – the charmer!
Three centuries later the tradition had been all but forgotten, until 1895, when the aspiring singer Felix Mayol was given a sprig of lily-of-the-valley by a Paris fan,
put it in his buttonhole, went on stage to great acclaim, et voilá – breathed new life into the muguet de mai tradition.
Now I can be found every year in all French florists, a sign that the enchantment can begin again. Ah, l’amour!