Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1st: Green Floral Touches to Celebrate in Style

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!


  1. Anonymous21:23

    happy premiere mai to you! and thank you for remembering traditions like this - it makes me, over here in the states, feel good and connected with my european roots! it reminds me of my french mom. i just sent her a pretty photo of muguet.


  2. Oh Diorissimo ---- had it in Parfum in the early 80's (came in this small square bottle ) - it was wonderful - so rich and pretty!!!

  3. VeniH10:29

    Oh yes... Diorissimo... the one I own NOW is nothing compared with the good old one :-((

  4. Carillon Pour un Ange by Tauer is a lovely lily of the valley as well.

  5. kathybirdtribe12:10

    and the beautiful Penhalighans Lily of the Valley also mmmm makes everyone around the wearer smile

  6. I just spritzed Yardley's Lily of the Valley yesterday, it was so lovely!

  7. C,

    you're most welcome! :-)

    I'm a lover of traditions; of rituals, more like it. I find the contemporary world lacking in savoring the soul soothing that ritual offers.

    How lovely of you to send some muguet as porte-bonheur!

  8. M,

    and fancy it even had civet in it!
    It was a delight of the senses and the spirit. I guess we're lucky we got to experience it at all.

  9. Veni,

    it's a shame, isn't it. So sad many of our favs have become specters...

  10. Christine,

    very true, I forgot about it! Yes, good one!!

  11. K,

    must try it! Thanks for the rec. :-)

  12. Annina,

    Yardley's do make some nice ones, don't they? I loved their Iris.

  13. Miss Heliotrope01:32

    Of course, this side of the world, you'd better better off with something that smells of bonfires, falling leaves, and wool...

    Mind you, 1 May is Dr Heliotrope's bday - surely he'd like one of these...

  14. Olivia01:36

    Muguet de Bois by Coty was my mother's "special" perfume. On one of my early birthdays (maybe 10 years old?) I received my own tiny glass bottle of it. I have trouble with muguet scents now, because the scent association is *so* strong that I can't get past it. They are lovely flowers, though!

  15. MH,

    of course...I need to do a Down Under post one of these days. It's not for lack of thinking of you that I have delayed.

    Happy birthday to your hub!!!

  16. Olivia,

    I always hear that this Coty was admired even by Roudnitska himself (the perfumer of Diorissimo). My experience with it has been through vintage bottles discovered here and there and they not all held up that well, but I can well see how it's a very powerful memory when worn by someone. Love the woodiness.


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