MayDay, May Day!

May 1st has long been known as a day of celebration throughout much of Europe. “May Day” as it is sometimes called, represents the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. In ancient times it was known as the first day of summer, the festival of the goddess of flowers, Flora; February 1 was then the first day of spring. (This is how you end up with “Midsummer’s Eve” being on June 25th.) However, when I checked into all this history I was reminded more of the other meaning of this expression when the words are strung together – “mayday” is a distress signal, not in relation to the celebrations but from the French words meaning to help someone: “m’aider”. Living in such a bountiful part of the world, this seemed like an appropriate sentiment to cultivate as the growing season begins.

Thankfully, we are getting to the time of year when we can enjoy the spoils from closer to home. The farmers' market is now open, and gardens are valiantly working to sprout local veggies and flowers for us to enjoy. I just heard about Chef Jon Garratt’s “Plant a Row – Grow a Row” program with the Kelowna Food Bank as well, so I will be planting some extra seeds to help supply those in need in our community. I am hoping the Westside will allow me to donate in the same fashion. If you want to see the program details, click on the video.

I love gardening and seasonal traditions and symbols so I have put some Lilies of the Valley in my sensory garden out back, in keeping with the French tradition of May Day. Bouquets of these little white flowers are given to loved ones on May First, something that began with King Charles IX when he received them as a lucky charm and passed them to the ladies at court. Between those blossoms and the lavender planted at the garden gate for luck, the gardens at Rabbit Hollow should be set for a great gardening season!

I know with the Spring Wine Festival starting there will be much in the way of celebration going on. (You can check out all the events at their website.) Remember to eat something hearty with all that wine flowing, and perhaps you can include a fresh sprig of something to symbolize the fact that spring is underway and summer is not far off. I have posted more recipes on my Happy Gourmand blog, and Martin’s website has videos too, if you need ideas.

The magic of new shoots and fresh tastes is sure to inspire the spring fairies to awaken their kin and bring the spirit of summer into full regalia. If you feel the urge to dance through a field, carry on!

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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