April 22, 2015

Beautiful Lily of the Valley

As the month of May draws near, the woodlands of Europe begin to brighten up with the colours of the blossoming May flower, lily of the valley. In honour of this charming flower, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle will be handing out complimentary posies of lily of the valley for you to take on holiday. To help you learn more about this beautiful flower, I've put together a guide on its history, traditions and uses.

History

Otherwise known as Convallaria Majalis, the lily of the valley flower is recognisable by its fragrant scent and small bell-shaped petals that drop and have a scalloped edge, which curl upwards. Although the flower is often white in colour, you can get the rosea variation, which have a beautiful pink and lilac tint. The flowers can be found throughout Europe, as well as some parts of Asia, and commonly bloom between April and May.

 Lily image
Enjoy the sweet scent of lily of the valley.

French tradition

Traditionally, sprigs of lily of the valley are handed out to family members on Fête du Muguet (or Labour Day). It's a tradition that has been celebrated for many years, since the 16th Century, and is seen as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year.

Legends

The flower is often referred to as Mary's Tears, which refers to an old Christian legend where lily of the valley sprouted out of the same ground Virgin Mary's tears dropped on, as she wept during Jesus' crucifixion. An alternative legend explains that the lily of the valley flowers grew from the tears of Eve, after she was separated from Adam and cast out of the garden of Eden.

 Lily image 2
Once the petals have fallen, the berries will grow.

Uses

In terms of its symbolic power, the lily of the valley is said to represent happiness, and this may be why the flower is often used in bridal bouquets. Famous brides include film star Grace Kelly, and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who were both photographed holding the flowers throughout their ceremonies.

Where you can find it

The flower is more commonly found in wooded areas, but it's often said that the lily of valley grows like that of a weed, and be can be found almost anywhere, if the conditions are right. If you wish to grown your own, the soil must be sandy and slightly acidic, and the surrounding area should provide partial shade.

 Lily image 3
Watch out for the rosea variation of the flower.

Want one of your own?

If you're travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle on 1st May, you'll be able to claim your very own lily of the valley from the Charles Dickens Terminal. Just don't forget to tweet @LeShuttle with a photo of your lily of the valley, for a chance to win a bottle of perfume!

Collect your bunch of sprigs from 10am in the Charles Dickens terminal or the Flexiplus lounge in Calais. Whilst stock last, one bunch of sprigs per car.

Photo Credits:
Enjoy the sweet scent of lily of the valley. © liz west
Once the petals have fallen, the berries will grow. © kahvikisu
Watch out for the rosea variation of the flower. © Leonora Enking
Beautiful lily of the valley © RC designer

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