Today is May Day. As well as bringing a bank holiday weekend for us all to enjoy, the day is also steeped in flowery significance and tradition. People all over France will today be giving out little fragrant posies of "Muguet", or as we know it, "Lily of the Valley", to one another as small tokens of love. The tradition is believed to have started in the 1560's when King Charles IX of France received a bunch from one of his Knights. He saw the flowers as a lucky charm and decided to make it a tradition to give the ladies in his court a similar bunch of the heavily scented, delicate woodland flower each year on May 1st. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the flower and the tradition became synonymous with the workers and the Labour Day movement and the government even agreed to let traders sell the flower tax-free for one day on May 1st.
Bunches of the flower are still given today, and although the political and historical notions linger, the bloom is mostly seen as a symbol of springtime and, as I said above, a love token. These bell shaped flowers are amongst the most beautiful, and their incredible scent has been an inspiration to perfumeries for centuries. As with all the most lovely flowers, they have a very small window of availability, so if, like Kate, you fancy them in your wedding bouquet, you will have to choose your date very carefully!