Human Flower Project
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Konvalinka - It Took an Army
For the annals of unintended consequences: how the Red Army kept the bloom on Moravia’s May flower.
Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley), known in France as “muguets,” in the Czech Republic as “konvalinka”
Photo: Klaus Neukirch
Klaus and Nicole Neukirch of Quarante, France, emailed these lilies of the valley several weeks ago, observing—as well as digitization permits—the beautiful French custom of sharing and wearing muguets for good luck on May 1. Merci, mes tresors!
Imagine our surprise when a week later, we met this woman selling the tiny white bells and their green-leaf wrappers on the street in Brno, Czech Republic. It was Saturday, May 9, formerly recognized as Czech Liberation Day, but we don’t know as that occasion brought this woman from her home in Vyskov to the city. More likely, it was just that lilies of the valley were in bloom. When we asked a clerk at our hotel if this flower held any special meaning at this time of year, she replied: “It’s just something old people in the country do for money.”