First Of May In France

La Fête du Travail, Labour Day, or May Day is a public holiday observed on May 1st in many countries all over the world, including France. It’s the International Workers Day that started back in 19th century in the United States with a demand for an eight-hour workday. In France, it is also a day to honor workers rights, but it has another significance as well: it is a day to offer a lily of the valley flowers to the loved ones!

In France, May 1st is actually the only public holiday of the year when employees are legally obliged to receive a day off. The eight-hour working day was introduced in 1919 in France but even today trade unions regularly organize parades all over the country to fight for workers’ rights and justice every year. First of May in France is also referred to as La Fête du Muguet - Lily of the Valley Day. People traditionally give flowers to the loved ones, especially in Paris. This tradition goes back to as far as 1560s, when king Charles IX of France was given a lily of the valley flowers as a present on the first of May. King Charles liked the gift and the flowers so much, that he started the tradition of presenting the ladies of his court with lily flowers each year on May 1st. It has no connection to the workers’ right, as the tradition began way before the trade union even existed, but it has a different, romantic meaning that falls on the same day. If you happen to be in France on the first of May, make sure to get a flower to your loved one, but also - don’t stay in work for more than eight hours! :)

-Dominika, thanks for your contribution!

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