The 1st of May is a Public Holiday in France. There are quite a few in May, so you may (excuse the pun) need to jot them down. For ease of reference we have done this for you (as at 2023) :-
1 May – Fête du Travaille/Labour Day
8 May – Victoire 1945/Victory In Europe
18 May – Ascension Day
29 May – Pentecôte/Whit Monday
Did you know that if a Jour Férié (Bank Holiday) falls on a Thursday, that many places including schools, ‘faire le pont’? This means that they bridge the Bank Holiday onto the weekend. Essentially, they take the Friday off as well to make it a long weekend! Unfortunately if a Bank Holiday falls on a weekend – you do not get the following Monday off.
Turning back to the first of these May Bank Holidays – this Fête Du Travail, as its name suggests, celebrates the rights of workers and is taken very seriously. Would you expect anything less from the French people who fiercely guard their workers rights. There are some Bank Holidays, whereby various places may be open, but this isn’t one of them. So be prepared!
To give you a little background into this special day, it was in 1886 (following the anniversary of the French Revolution) that socialists celebrated by announcing that May 1 would be International Workers Day. At this time, the symbol for the day was represented by a red triangle. It was to show 8 hours of work, rest and leisure time.
In 1907, this was replaced with the flower – Lily of the Valley (know as Muguet in French) as its new symbol for May Day and in 1941 it was officially called Fête du Travail.
Not only that, it is considered to be the real arrival of Spring. The Muguet is also a symbol of good luck, much like the Irish Shamrock which was started by King Charles IX when he was given this flower as a gift. You may be lucky enough to receive one from your French friends or certainly a giphy message! Or you may wish to give one to your neighbour or someone else close to you, to mark this very special Bank Holiday in France.
We hope you enjoyed this little insight as to what the 1st of May means to the people of France.