Stories from the (English-speaking) world

Our latest story is a report by an American Lady, telling you about the lily of the valley (Maiglöckchen) traditions in France. 


A report by Carole Funger, found on www.connectionnewspapers.com:

Years ago when I was living in Paris, I was awakened one spring morning by a knock at the door. Opening the door, I discovered a basket of tiny white flowers on the threshold. I had just received my first brin de muguet, a gift of lilies of the valley, a flower exchanged each year in France on the first of May.

In France, lily of the valley (commonly known as muguet in French) has been given as a gift for centuries. Legend has it that the custom began in the mid 16th century when on May 1, 1561, King Charles IX received a sprig of the tiny flower as a token of good luck. He so liked the idea that he decided to start a tradition. From that day on, on the first of May, he presented bouquets of lilies of the valley to each of the ladies of his court. The Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day) was born.

There’s an old legend that tells the tale of how the first lily of the valley was in love with a nightingale. Every night the nightingale would come to the garden to sing. The lily of the valley was shy, though, and hid herself from the nightingale. In time, the bird grew lonely and flew away.

Alone in the garden, the lily of the valley waited in vain for the nightingale to return. She eventually grew so sad that she stopped blooming. She resumed flowering only when the nightingale reappeared in May and her happiness was restored.

In the early 20th century in France, it was customary for men to give bouquets of lilies of the valley as tokens of affection. They presented their gifts, in accordance with tradition, on the first of May. In their absence, the men sent romantic postcards with elaborate drawings of the flower accompanied by wishes of good luck. The ritual of sending Fête du Muguet cards is still practiced today.

knock=Klopfen

threshold= Türschwelle

lily of the valley= Maiglöckchen

century=Jahrhundert

ecxchanged= hier: sich gegenseitig schenken

custom=Brauch

sprig= kleiner Zweig

token=Zeichen

court=Hof(staat)

nightingale=Nachtigall

shy=schüchtern

hide, hid, hidden=verstecken

in vain=vergeblich

eventually=schließlich

resume=wieder mit etwas anfangen

reappear= wieder auftauchen

restore= wiederherstellen

customaty=üblich

affection=Zuneigung

in accordance with= in Übereinstimmung mit

In their absence=when es keine gab

elaborate=kunstvoll

accompanied by= begleitet von

is practiced= wird ausgeübt

 


I found this text and this picture on the facebook page of Rudyard Lake according to which Rose Mary Berlin is the artist of the endearing illustration of the Polish legend. 

The Legend of the Pussy Willow
According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river’s edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies.
The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore.
Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.

According to...=...zufolge

Polish=polnisch

drown=ertrinken

willow=Weide

edge=Rand, Ufer

sweep=fegen

graceful=anmutig

branch=Ast

rescue=retten

tiny kittens=winzige Kätzchen

chase=jagen

grip on tightly=sich festhalten

shore=Strand, Ufer

sprout=sprießen lassen

fur-like buds=fellähnliche Knospen

cling, clang, clung=klammern