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May in Provence - My vision

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

The month of May is one of my favorite months. The days are longer, the temperatures are milder. Even though I often recommend discovering Provence during winter. May is a month where it is good to discover our region.


It is also an important month in France for other reasons.


Indeed, several important historical events have occurred in May throughout the history of France.

Do you know them?


They are:


  • May 1st known as "Labor Day"

  • May 8th which commemorates the armistice of World War II

We will also talk about the Cannes Film Festival, which always takes place during this period.


May in Provence - My vision
Virginie In Provence with lily of the valley

I. Holidays during the month of May in Provence


1. May in Provence - May 1


May 1st has been a public holiday in France since 1947. It is known as "Labor Day". It is a day to celebrate workers and their rights. I think only the French celebrate work by not working. It has always made me laugh.


2. The month of May in Provence - A little history on May 1.


This day is an opportunity for workers to gather and demonstrate for their rights. Demonstrations are often organized by unions and political parties. This celebration has its origins in 1886. At that time, American workers organized demonstrations to demand an eight-hour workday. Since then, this day has become a day of celebration of the working class and solidarity among workers.


3. May in Provence - What is the relationship between May 1 and the lily of the valley?


Although French by birth, I did not immediately understand the connection between Lily of the Valley and May 1st. Why do we always (or almost always) give a sprig or pot of Lily of the Valley on May 1st?


At the beginning of the 20th century, Lily of the Valley was a flower associated with Labor Day, as it symbolized spring and renewal. In 1907, Lily of the Valley became a tradition for Parisian workers. Unions began to distribute sprigs of Lily of the Valley to workers to celebrate Labor Day and as a symbol of working-class solidarity.


This tradition was strengthened in 1919 when May 1st became a public holiday in France. People began to offer sprigs of Lily of the Valley to family members, friends, and colleagues to celebrate Labor Day.


This tradition quickly spread throughout the country and became an important part of French

culture.


4. Lily of the Valley in May in Provence – A symbol


Today, Lily of the Valley is a symbol of spring and Labor Day in France. Florists sell Lily of the Valley sprigs on May 1st throughout the country. The French often offer Lily of the Valley to their loved ones as a sign of friendship and good fortune.


May in Provence - My vision
Virginie In Provence with the French flag


5. May 8 in Provence – What is it?


May 8th is a public holiday in France, known as "Victory in Europe Day".


It marks the end of World War II in Europe. After five years of war, Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945. This date is commemorated every year in France with a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris followed by a military parade on the Champs-Élysées. The President of the French Republic and representatives of foreign countries attend this ceremony to honor the soldiers who fought and sacrificed their lives for the freedom of France.


II. Why I love the month of May in Provence - Doing the Bridge


May 1st and May 8th are public holidays that allow us to have a long weekend. There are often a lot of people on the roads during these days. When these holidays fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday, it is possible to take an additional day off on Monday or Friday and enjoy a 4 day weekend. We then say that we are "doing the bridge."


May in Provence - My vision
Virginie In Provence

May is also the month that celebrates French culture. Do you know what event I am referring to? Follow me and let's go together to the Cannes Film Festival.


III. What are the other events of May in Provence


1. The Cannes Film Festival during the month of May in Provence –

The Cannes Film Festival has been held every year since 1946 in May. It is one of the most prestigious events in the world of cinema. Filmmakers from all over the world present their films and compete for the Palme d'Or, the festival's highest award. Celebrities from all over the world attend the festival and walk the red carpet to attend film screenings. The Cannes Film Festival is a showcase for French and international cinema and contributes to the recognition of France as a global cultural center.



May in Provence - My vision
Virginie In Provence with an Oscar

2. Another special day in May in Provence: Pentecost


Pentecost is a Christian holiday designated on the seventh Sunday after Easter (i.e. 50 days after Easter) to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus. This feast is also known as the "Feast of Pentecost" or "Feast of the Holy Spirit". It is considered one of the most important feasts of the Christian Church.


The date of Easter is fixed according to the lunar calendar. Easter can take place between March 22 and April 25. The date of Pentecost also varies. It can take place between May 10 and June 13. This year, Pentecost instead of May 29. Another holiday will you tell me?


Not really…


Since the heat wave of 2004 which claimed many victims among the elderly, the government has proposed that Pentecost become a working day. He also created a day of solidarity in favor of the elderly and people with disabilities. This solidarity day, called "Solidarity Day for the Elderly", usually takes place on a weekday that was previously a public holiday, and employers are encouraged to ask their employees to work on this day, in exchange for a financial contribution that is reversed to associations for the elderly and people with disabilities. Pentecost has therefore not been a public holiday since 2008.


It is important to note that Pentecost remains an important religious holiday for Christians, and that many companies and institutions in France will continue to celebrate by imposing a day off for their employees.


How Pentecost is given in France depends on the region. In some regions it is customary to make bonfires, while in others religious processions and pilgrimages are organized. Overall, Pentecost is a day of gathering and celebration for Christian communities in France.



3. May in Provence: more and more…


May is also a month of celebration for foodies in France. The season of asparagus, strawberries, and cherries begins at the end of April and continues throughout May. We also take advantage of this season to cook dishes with fresh asparagus, strawberries, and cherries, which are often used in desserts.


Finally, May is also an important month for politics in France. Presidential elections are held every five years, and the first round of voting often takes place in May. In May 2023, there are no elections scheduled.



If you come to my place for an immersion stay in Provence, I will make you discover the different aspects of Provence: the landscapes and the scents, but also the culture, the gastronomy... while helping you to improve your French. See you soon in Provence!

Virginie In Provence




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