On the first of May, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. Each year thereafter, he offered a sprig to each of the ladies of his court. Eventually, it became customary for the French to give lilies of the valley to loved ones as a symbol of springtime.
Seth and I just returned from a pre-parade gathering at Republique, and we imagine the political festivities were more or less typical to a Parisian Labor Day. Syrians carried their nation’s flag to promote solidarity; Communist, Socialists, and Anti-Capitalists rallied support; Iraqis and Afghanistanis protested United States interference (They carried signs that read, in French, “Yankee, go home! Yesterday Iraq, today Afghanistan. What next?”); international workers sold sausages, kebabs, and yes, lilies of the valley, free of taxation.
Of course, everything in our neighborhood is closed today.