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Facts about May public holidays in France

  • In France, often there are four public holidays in May for: 
    • 1 May Labour Day/Fête du Travail
    • 8 May V-E Day/Victoire 1945
    • Ascension/Ascension (religious day)
    • Whit Monday/Lundi de Pentecôte (day after Pentecost).
  • Only Labour day (May 1st) is a public holiday by statute. Customary on that day are labour marches and lily of the valley (muguet) bouquests/sprigs are given - these can be sold on the day by organisations without having to pay taxes. The tradition dates back to the time of Charles IX when someone gave him this flower on 1 May 1561 for good luck. At one stage protesters symbol was a red triangle symbolising eight hours of work, sleep and leisure but this was later replaced by a rose then the King Charles lily tradition.
  • The rest of the holidays are granted by convention collective (agreement between employers' and employees' unions) or by employer agreement.

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