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The birth month flower for May is the lily of the valley, which means sweetness, humility and purity or chastity; an alternative is the hawthorn, which symbolizes hope and optimism.
The delicate white (very rarely pinkish in hue) bell-shaped flowers of the lily of the valley have a sweet and heady scent, and nestle in between the broad green or variegated leaves as if being protected by them. In Christian legends, some believe that lily of the valley sprung from the ground where Eve’s tears fell as she was driven from the Garden of Eden by Adam. Others believe that it was the tears of Mary, weeping at Christ’s cross, from which the flowers came. This latter legend has given lily of the valley an alternate name of Mary’s Tears.
The hawthorn gets its genus name from the Greek word (Kratos) for strong, or powerful. A member of the rose family, it’s also known as the thornapple, thanks to its thorny branches and small berry-like fruit (called a haw). In Old English, a hedge was known as a haw, and hawthorns were often planted for hedges, thanks to the near-impenetrable barrier they created and the wealth of hedgerow life that the hawthorn supported. These hedges often flowered in spring, and became associated with the month of May, and May Day, and the celebrations held to herald the coming of spring. The hawthorn is often used in English poetry to mark the hope and optimism this new spring brings with it. The delicate white flowers are sometimes referred to as mayblossom. You can use the flowers alone, or if you’re feeling adventurous and have access to the branches from which the flowers grow, include them in a larger arrangement.
Whether you choose lily of the valley or the hawthorn flowers, you can now be sure you’re sending a pleasant and intentional message to the recipient of your thoughtful gift of May month birth flowers.