Lily of the Valley

The tiniest flower with the biggest scent is perhaps Lily of the Valley.  These beautiful pure white flowers bloom in late Spring.  Kate Greenaway cites it as meaning, “ return of happiness.”  This make sense to me because Lily of the Valley Bloom in May just as everything is coming back to life. (The species name, convallaria majalis, means “belonging to May”.)  At least here in Chicago, after a long (loooooong) winter, there is nothing like the joy of seeing flowers spring forth!

Lily of the Valley is also know as “Our Lady's Tears.” Legend has it that the tiny white bells sprung up from the fallen tears of the Virgin Mary at Christ’s crucifixion. The Virgin Mary is often depicted with this flower. 

Lily of the valley is a popular choice for spring brides to use in their bouquets and boutonnières. Both Kate Middleton and Grace Kelly had them in their bridal bouquets. Can anyone say classy?

There is a lovely French tradition that on May Day, you give a little bouquet of lily of the valley (Muguet-du-Bois) to friends, family, and colleagues.  Tradition has it that it began in 1561, when King Charles IX of France was given a bouquet of these blooms as sign of prosperity and good fortune in the coming year. 

A few other names for Lily of the Valley are May Lily, May Bells, Ladder-to-Heaven, and Muguet (the French name for these petite blooms).



Mary Simmons