There is something about the green floralcy of lily of the valley, the tiny bells echoing the spirit of the renewal of spring, humble-looking and stealthy beneath the grass carpet that adorns the fields anew. The scent of this tiny blossom has inspired perfumers for ages, though it is elusive to capture and has to be recreated via the synergy of other ingredients.
But how did the tradition of offering lily of the valley on May 1st begin? The story goes many centuries ago to the French court of Long Charles IX in fact. On May 1,1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer the flower to the ladies of his court each year, a fact that was appreciated in its symbolic gesture, and as a result, it is now customary to give a lily of the valley, the symbol of springtime, on May 1. Lily of the valley has become synonymous with May ever since. The Latin name Convallaria means "valley" and Majalis means "blooming in May" (from the Greek), echoed in German as Maiglöckchen, the tiny bell of May.
Paul Dunbar wrote in 1901:
"Like the Lily of the Valley
In her honesty and worth,
Ah, she blooms in truth and virtue
In the quiet nooks of earth.
In the silence of the darkness
Where no eye may see and know,
There her footsteps shod with mercy,
And fleet kindness come and go."
A selection of Lily of the Valley fragrances to feel all spring-like includes:
Diorissimo by Dior
An icon. Since vintage is infinitely better in all regards, please consult my guide into how to date Diorissimo vintage bottles.
Le Muguet by Annick Goutal
Muguet du Bonheur by Caron
Muguet by Guerlain (annual limited edition)
Debut by Parfums delRae
Lily of the Valley by L'Erbolario
Eau de Cologne 1920: Muguet by Jardin de France
Les Fleurs de Provance: Muguet by Molinard
Envy by Gucci
DSH Muguet de Mai
And let's not forget Diptyque's Muguet room spray for the feeling of the first day of May year-long.
There is even a tea flavor, Lily/Muguet by Marriages Freres!
To learn more about the lily of the valley traditions and how perfumers use muguet notes alongside a comprehensive list of lily of the valley/muguet perfumes, visit the link. To see some surprising facts about the scent of this humble blossom, read this article. And to see the annual one-day only Guerlain edition of their Muguet perfume, please click on the link.
Happy May 1st to you!