Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Baskets and May Wine

The celebration of May Day, May 1st, has been going on for centuries,
but I never really understood its significance 
beyond helping my mom fashion May baskets 
out of construction paper some Springs.

photo from

We would fill them with fresh flowers 
and then deliver them to a few elderly widows around town. 
My mom never failed to remember those who might be alone or in need.
Even so, I was her delivery girl,
and I was always reluctant to make the long walk up to the houses to deliver the baskets.
I did like seeing the expression on the old ladies' faces 
when they saw the flowers and waved to my  mom to say thanks.
It meant so much to them.
So that memory is really  the only reason I remember May Day.
But a gentle holiday devoted to the delights of flowers, friends, and warm summer days
possesses a certain charm.

photo from

And every year, I make plans to celebrate May Day and my German heritage
not by delivering May baskets, 
but by making some May Wine from sweet woodruff and strawberries.
I do now have sweet woodruff that has survived the winter,
but this May Day is dark and rainy,
and I don't feel  much like celebrating this as the traditional first day of summer.

(That May Day, also called Beltane, was the first day of summer in the pre-Christian era,
I didn't know. But according to an unverified source in Wikipedia, 
the first day of Spring was February 1st, 
the first day of Summer May 1st, and June 21st was called Mid-Summer.
I don't know about Spring being February 1st in the old days,
but I've seen more than a couple of sources saying May 1st was celebrated
as the beginning of summer--which sounds good to me.)

If making May baskets isn't your cup of tea either 
perhaps a different kind of cup is in order.
Here's an easy  recipe for May Wine,
but there are many others on the internet, each different:

1 bottle of Riesling
1 bottle of champagne or sparkling wine
1 cup of fresh sweet woodruff leaves 
sliced strawberries

Some recipes recommend first lightly warming the sweet woodruff 
in a 275-degree oven just long enough for the scent to rise.
Place the leaves in the wine overnight to as long as 3 days - 7 days.
Add sliced strawberries before serving.

Happy May Day!

No comments: