In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about May’s Official Birth Month Flowers, the Lily of the Valley, and Hawthorn. Learn about their meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers and their cultural significance around the world today.
May Birth Month Flower: Lily of the Valley
Lily-of-the-valley flowers aren’t true lilies. Instead, they are part of the Asparagus family, known for their sweet scent and fragrant, bell-shaped blooms that often come in white. They bloom abundantly in May. Hence, they are also known as the May Lily.
More than just being the official birth flower for May, these sweet-smelling flowers hold significant cultural significance. This white flower was the floral emblem of Yugoslavia. In 1967, Finland designated it as its national flower. Also, France celebrates a special day called Lily of the Valley Day or La Fête du Muguet every May 1st.
Birth Flowers for May: History & Origin of Lily of the Valley Flowers
Even in its scientific name, Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis agrees that this is the perfect traditional birth flower for May. The term majalis translates to “of or belonging to May,” while Convallaria means “valley plant.”
Early gardeners first cultivated the lily of the valley plants in 1420. They are native to Europe and Asia.
There are two versions of this flower’s origins in the Christain religion. According to the first legend, Eve’s tears turned into the lily of the valley flower when she got banished from the Garden of Eden. But in a different tale, the flower emerged from Mother Mary’s tears during the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus, the other common names of this flower are Mary’s tears and Our Lady’s tears.
May bells is another known name for this flower, following its bell-like shape.
Meanings and Symbolism of Lily of the Valley
The May birth flower lily of the valley holds many different meanings and symbolism.
First, these flowers are a known symbol of romance. In history, men in France have given bouquets of these fragrant blooms to express affection through a tradition called La Fête du Muguet. For others, these flowers wish good luck and happiness in the celebration of spring.
Furthermore, because of these flowers’ sweet fragrance and small, white blooms, they also signify humility and purity.
On the other hand, these flowers also symbolize sadness and pain due to loss or death. Because of this, lily of the valley flowers is also found in flower arrangements for funerals.
The shape of these flowers further gives even more meaning. There’s a belief that little bells, like the shape of these blooms, help drive away evil spirits. Because of this, this May birth flower has also become a symbol of serenity.
Popular Types of Lily of the Valley Flowers
Here are a few of my favorite Lily of the Valley varieties to gift to May birthday celebrants:
- Rosea Lily of the Valley. This famed variety of lily of the valley flaunts pale, rose-like pink flowers on upright stems. Since pink flowers generally convey appreciation, happiness, and grace, giving this flower as a birthday gift to someone you appreciate is a good idea.
- Hardwick Hall Lily of the Valley. The remarkable ‘Hardwick’ variety features small, cream-white, bell-shaped flowers and deep green leaves with cream-white, golden-like stripes around the edges. Another white-colored lily of the valley variety that sports golden edges along the foliage is the Lily of the Valley ‘Cream da Mint.’
- Fernwood’s Golden Slippers Lily of the Valley. One of the most popular cultivars of these May birth flowers is Fernwood’s Golden Slippers. It features striking golden foliage that complements the elegance of the small white flowers. This variety is an excellent filler for bouquets for any occasion, including birthdays and anniversaries.
May Birth Month Flower: Hawthorn
The other birthday flower for May is the hawthorn flower. Unlike lily of the valley, hawthorns are not typically used as cut flowers in bouquets and floral arrangements.
History and Name Origin of Hawthorn Flowers
The name hawthorn refers to an entire Crataegus genus of shrubs and small trees in the Rose family. Other known common names of these plants include quickthorn, whitethorn, and haw berry.
The most popular kind of hawthorn is the common hawthorn, known scientifically as Crataegus monogyna. Sometimes referred to as the May tree, this hawthorn species boasts abundant pink and white blooms in May. For that reason, gardeners use this plant as an ornamental hedge.
The genus name Crataegus originates from the Greek words kratos and akis. Kratos means strength, while akis means sharp, referring to the thorns of some hawthorn species.
Meanings and Symbolism of Hawthorn Flowers
In the language of flowers, hawthorn blooms represent hope and supreme happiness. Also, they symbolize love, beauty, and fertility in many cultures. The meaning of love and beauty originates from the tree’s elegant look and form.
Because most hawthorn species possess thorns, these plants are often associated with protection.
Gifting someone a hawthorn flower means you want only the best for the receiver.
Other Popular In-Season Birthday Flowers for May:
Here you’ll find the most popular in-season May flowers that also make excellent gifts for birthdays and occasions like weddings, anniversaries, graduation, job promotion, new house, new job, and more.
Find a list of your top favorite cut flowers; you will most likely see peony flowers or peonies included. This spring-blooming perennial has always been a frontrunner for cutting flower popularity in bouquets and flower arrangements. If you’re still wondering why, then look at their lavish blooms that often present hues of pinks, purples, and whites.
The flower Iris gets its name after the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Recognized as the birthday flowers for February, irises present beautiful blooms that are often purple or blue. They symbolize wisdom, courage, admiration, royalty, hope, and faith.
Pansies are one of the more easily recognizable ornamentals that display colorful and vibrant blooms. Because of their appeal, these blooms bring lots of positivity. They symbolize love, memory, affection, ideas, thoughts, dreams, creativity, and more.
The birthday flowers for May are not the only ones suitable as gifts. The beautiful magnolias are also a fitting gift for any celebration or even when there’s no occasion. Not only are they among the most challenging flowers worldwide, but they make excellent cut flowers. Including these blooms in bouquets would add elegance, fragrance, and charm.
Why Are There Two Birth Month Flowers in May?
May is represented by two birth flowers: the Lily of the Valley and the Hawthorn. While there isn’t a single reason why some months have more than one birth flower, several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
The most common likely reason for two birth month flowers in May can be attributed to folklore and cultural variances across regions and countries over time. Various traditions of assigning flowers to birth months have developed. These traditions can depend on the local climate, which influences what flowers bloom during a particular month, as well as local folklore and customs.
Moreover, different flowers carry different meanings in the language of flowers, a symbolic system that was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Two flowers for one month allow for a richer range of symbolic expressions. For instance, the Lily of the Valley symbolizes sweetness, humility, and a “return to happiness,” while the Hawthorn symbolizes hope and supreme happiness.
What are the Origins of May Birth Month Flowers?
The tradition of May birth flowers is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where flowers were given as gifts to celebrate birthdays and other special events. Each month was associated with a particular flower, believed to hold specific characteristics or powers that would be imparted to people born in that month.
The specific flowers associated with each month have varied throughout history and between cultures. For example, some cultures in the Middle Ages used the symbolic language of flowers, called floriography, to communicate coded messages based on the type and color of the flower given. This practice continued into the Victorian era when the language of flowers became extremely popular and complex.
Like many traditions, the current list of May birth month flowers that we use today has been influenced by various historical and cultural factors. It’s similar to birthstones, where each month is associated with a specific gemstone.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the Official Birth Month Flowers.
For the best local florists curating beautiful May birth flower arrangements, see our local guides to flower delivery in Los Angeles, Chicago, and NYC and the best nationwide flower delivery services.
The Official Birth Flower Calendar:
|Month:||Birth Flower:||Flower Meaning & Symbolism:|
|January:||Carnations & Snowdrop||Pink Carnations (love and appreciation), White Carnations (luck, love, and affection, Red Carnations (love and friendship). Snowdrop (hope and rebirth).|
|February:||Violet, Iris and Primrose||Violets (faithful love, truth, loyalty, humility), Iris (hope, faith, passion, purity, and innocence), Primrose (affection, young love, undying affection)|
|March:||Daffodils||Daffodils (new beginnings, faithfulness, luck, prosperity, and hope)|
|April:||Daisy & Sweet Pea||Daisy (purity, love, new beginnings, fertility, and motherhood). Sweet Pea (blissful pleasure, gratitude).|
|May:||Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn||Lily of the Valley (romance, luck, happiness, purity, humility). Hawthorn (hope, love, beauty, fertility, and supreme happiness).|
|June:||Roses & Honeysuckle||Roses (love, passion, romance, purity, gratitude). Honeysuckle (happiness and eternal love).|
|July:||Larkspur & Water Lily||Larkspur (happiness, love); Water Lily (enlightenment, resurrection, purity, beauty, creation).|
|August:||Gladiolus & Poppy||Gladiolus (integrity, honor, respect); Poppy (remembrance, prosperity, enchantment, sympathy).|
|September:||Aster & Morning Glory||Aster (faith, love, achievement, and wisdom); Morning Glory (affection, intimate love, patience).|
|October:||Marigolds & Cosmos||Marigolds (devotion, commitment); Cosmos (harmony, love, innocence, beauty, modesty, joy, and balance).|
|November:||Chrysanthemum & Peonies||Chrysanthemum (friendship, love); Peonies (romance, prosperity, good fortune, honor, and compassion)|
|December:||Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly,||Narcissus (innocence and purity); Poinsettia (success, celebration); Holly (happiness and optimism).|
May Birth Month Flowers FAQs:
What are the birth flowers for May?
The birth flowers for May are the Lily of the Valley and the Hawthorn.
What does the Lily of the Valley symbolize?
The Lily of the Valley symbolizes sweetness, humility, and a return to happiness. It can also denote purity, virtue, and luck in love.
Can I give Lily of the Valley or Hawthorn flowers as birthday gifts in May?
Both Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn flowers would make thoughtful and symbolic gifts for those born in May. Be aware, however, that every part of the Lily of the Valley plant is highly poisonous if ingested.
Are any superstitions or traditions associated with the Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn flowers?
In France, it is a tradition to give Lily of the Valley on May 1st as a token of luck and prosperity for the year. In ancient Greece, Hawthorn was considered sacred and was used in wedding ceremonies.
What are other names for these flowers?
Lily of the Valley is also known as May Bells, Our Lady’s Tears, or Mary’s Tears. Hawthorn is also known as May-tree, white thorn, or hawberry.
The Official May Birth Flowers – Wrapping Up
The birth month flowers for May, the Lily of the Valley, and Hawthorn, are beautiful blooms steeped in symbolism and tradition. With its fragrant bells, the Lily of the Valley represents sweetness, humility, and a return to happiness, while the Hawthorn’s blossoms symbolize hope, happiness, and protection. Each flower reflects the vibrancy of spring and the renewed growth that characterizes the month of May.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best birthday messages and quotes to share with friends, family, and loved ones.