May Birth Month Flowers: Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn

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 Flowers Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn

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.

History & Origin

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

White lily of the valley flowers in bloom

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.

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.

May Birth Month Flower: Hawthorn

White hawthorn flowers in bloom

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 floriography, hawthorn flowers symbolize 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.

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. This practice continued into the Victorian era when the language of flowers became extremely popular.

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.

The Official Birth Flower Calendar:

Month:Birth Flower:Flower Meaning & Symbolism:
January:Carnations & SnowdropPink Carnations (love and appreciation), White Carnations (luck, love, and affection, Red Carnations (love and friendship). Snowdrop (hope and rebirth).
February:Violet, Iris and PrimroseViolets (faithful love, truth, loyalty, humility), Iris (hope, faith, passion, purity, and innocence), Primrose (affection, young love, undying affection)
March:DaffodilsDaffodils (new beginnings, faithfulness, luck, prosperity, and hope)
April:Daisy & Sweet PeaDaisy (purity, love, new beginnings, fertility, and motherhood). Sweet Pea (blissful pleasure, gratitude).
May:Lily of the Valley & HawthornLily of the Valley (romance, luck, happiness, purity, humility). Hawthorn (hope, love, beauty, fertility, and supreme happiness).
June:Roses & HoneysuckleRoses (love, passion, romance, purity, gratitude). Honeysuckle (happiness and eternal love).
July:Larkspur & Water LilyLarkspur (happiness, love); Water Lily (enlightenment, resurrection, purity, beauty, creation).
August:Gladiolus & PoppyGladiolus (integrity, honor, respect); Poppy (remembrance, prosperity, enchantment, sympathy).
September:Aster & Morning GloryAster (faith, love, achievement, and wisdom); Morning Glory (affection, intimate love, patience).
October:Marigolds & CosmosMarigolds (devotion, commitment); Cosmos (harmony, love, innocence, beauty, modesty, joy, and balance). 
November:Chrysanthemum & PeoniesChrysanthemum (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).

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.

Editorial Director | | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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