May Day

Happy May Day!

Like so many of us, you might be looking a bit befuddled when someone wishes you Happy May Day! And, you might even reply: “Yeah, Happy May Day to you, too” and then wonder why you replied at all.

Well, it’s May 1 and that’s May Day. And, again, you might be saying: “Ah, and so what?” Actually, it’s kind of a big deal.

This kind of unofficial springing of spring is not celebrated too much in the United States but in other countries, it has a rich tradition. The best known May Day party is the maypole with its ribbons hanging from the top of the pole enticing you to grab one and dance around the pole to music. It’s a chance for children to dress in cultural dress, act out a dance and to celebrate getting through another winter.

After the winter we’ve all experienced, I think we should all make a maypole, put on whatever type of ancestral dress you desire and dance like heck. We’ve earned it!

Yet, the day isn’t celebrated much in our country because of the Puritans.

Historically, the day was celebrated by pagans who just wanted to have a party after the cold months of winter. It was a social event but, to the pristine Puritans, it was entirely a pagan ritual. No right thinking Christian would honor such a non-Christian event and when they arrived in the New World, they declared it illegal.

However, as we all know, some of us don’t always follow such dictates and it’s not too hard to find a May Day celebration in the area. I recently asked an acquaintance if they celebrated May Day and was met with a stunned look that told me what I wanted to know. Nope, they didn’t party on May Day but the month of May is full of their family’s birthdays so there’s a lot of partying going on because of them.

That’s good enough for me! But let’s place May Day into the type of holiday that simply means we are happy to be done with winter (hopefully) and we want to take off our shoes and dance in the grass for awhile.

Of course, we all know that when you dance for a spell, you get thirsty and that means you’ll need to wet your whistle a bit. However, as we all know again, the question is how does one satisfy that thirst?

In the spirit of moderation, one can always put that thirst to rest by drinking a glass of sparkling water, right? Yes, but what if…

Let’s take that glass of sparkling water (or sparkling wine), add a little sugar and the herb sweet woodruff along with some Riesling. The result will be an aromatic and tasty May wine or Mai wein. This wine became a tradition in parts of Germany and surrounding areas to observe the warmth and greenery of spring. You may have trouble finding the herb sweet woodruff around Minnesota so let’s try another beverage to take care of our thirst.

How about a May Day martini cocktail? Not only does this cocktail taste May like but it’s darn refreshing. The ingredients include vodka, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup and a few strawberry pieces. Put everything in a shaker, shake like blazes, pour into a martini glass and enjoy!

Hard liquor not your thing? Okay, let’s try a nice mild spring time beer. You have your choice of a great pilsner like Schell’s Pilsner (One of the best pilsners on the market!) or how about a Summit Maibock. The Maibock is a traditional German blond bock style of beer that earned the nickname “liquid bread” because it helped the monks of Bavaria get through Lenten fasting. Whatever works!

Summit’s Maibock is nicely sweet with just a touch of spice at the finish. It’s a beautiful reddish amber in the glass and has a very soft malty aroma. Give it a chance, I think you’ll like it and you don’t have to wait for Lent — enjoy Maibock on May Day!

In my family, we celebrated May Day by running across fields to the pasture hill to see if the May flowers had arrived. It was exciting to see those little blue colored flowers among the fresh green hillside and we’d pick a hand full of them to take back to the house for our mother to place in a flower vase. She was always happy to get them but never offered a glass of May wine to us in gratitude! Oh well, one day I’ll get over the disappointment! In full disclosure, I would have fallen over if she had done that.

Yes, it’s May Day. I hope the day is good for you and you’ll carve out a spot of time to celebrate spring in some way. Because, one day or another, spring will actually arrive to stay!

Next week, very old stuff.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!