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May 1st is a special day in several countries, but especially in France, where several traditions occur on that day. I'll start with the happy traditions:

  • May 1st is the day of the muguet (lily of the valley), a small bell-shaped white flower easy to find in the woods. May 1st is the only day in the year that everybody can sell muguet in the street without a license. In spite of its high price, it's so popular that muguet sales on May 1st are a major source of revenues for the French Communist Party. At least that's what the leader, Robert Hue, told to the judges in October 2000 when they asked him where the party drew its revenue from.
  • Of course, most people don't work. The International Labor Day is the only legal holiday in France. When May 1st occurs on Tuesday (or on Thursday), a lot of people don't work on Monday either (or on Friday).
  • The labor unions try to organize a huge demonstration on May 1st. But they're rarely united, and they attract less and less people.
  • In Paris, the far-right, nationalist and racist Front National, run by Jean-Marie Le Pen, sets up a procession under the patronage of Joan of Arc on May 1st. They use the young girl as a symbol of eternal France. You'd better avoid them if your skin is not white as snow: six years ago, some of the demonstrators pushed a Moroccan man into the Seine during the procession, for no reason at all. The man died.

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