01 May 2021

May 1st! Muguet and Dr Gachet


I have always loved this version of Dr Gachet because within this sonorous composition there is a glass with a small bouquet of Muguet in it. It is a detail revealing such warmth and understanding for France, the country which received him near the end of his difficult life. This was painted just a few months before his death on 27th of July, 1890. There is so much to be said, but another time.

And, I have also always loved May day in France ever since my girlfriend at the time offered a bouquet of muguet (lilies of the valley) to me one morning after I had first moved there. It was sweet and special, especially since I had never received a bouquet of flowers from anyone before, much less a young beautiful French girl whom I liked. 

The muguet bouquet is small, modest, and without any pretension suggesting the transactional as other bouquets might do when offered. It has no other demand than to be held in the palm of one's hand like a small squirrel and offered up to someone else. I think children like it for this very quality. 

Being the 1st of May, it is a holiday celebrating the workers. All of Europe shuts down for it. But the Lily of the Valley's tradition was earlier than the Russian Revolution. Instead of paraphrasing something from Wikipedia, I'll leave to them to explain. It was new to me.

-In France, lily of the valley (or muguet in French) has been given as a gift for centuries. Legend has it that the custom started on May 1, 1561 when King Charles IX received a sprig of the tiny flower as a token of good luck.

The King liked the idea so much that he decided to start a tradition. From that day forward on the first of May, he presented a bouquet of lilies of the valley to each of the ladies of his court. And thus began in France the FĂȘte du Muguet, otherwise known as May Day.-

And, a last tidbit for the restless on this worker's day off I enclosed this short story below which I didn't know about either.

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