MayDay, May Day!
Apr 28, 2012 / 5:00 am
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!
Read more Happy Gourmand articles
- Start summer in Summerland Jun 15
- Lazy days of summer? Jun 8
- A day in the life - Penticton May 25
- A foodie kind of day in the Okanagan May 11
- A day in the life of an Okanagan foodie May 4
- Slow and sweet Apr 27
- Do you have to eat dirt on Earth Day? Apr 20
- Recipes across the miles Apr 13
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