Originally, May Day was a festive day, and its origins go back to pre-Christian times. It was a celebration of springtime when people took hold of streamers fixed at the top of a maypole. They would circle the pole, reveling together in the first flowering blooms and feasting on the arrival of warm weather. Religions then injected rites into the day that were eventually ruled as unacceptable. Mayday was no longer celebrated in the England countries. After 16 years, it was once again declared a festive holiday. In 1900 student at Bryn Mawr College, in a way to raise money for a student’s building, decided to organize an Elizabethan festival to be held on May Day. Since that day, fresh strawberries and cream followed by dried chipped beef on toast has become a tradition in the Ritz-Carlton in Boston. Enjoy these traditional recipes:
Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast
- ½ pound (8 ounces) dried beef
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 8 slices of toast, halved
- Cut the dried beef in small pieces.
- In a 2-quart saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter and cook onion until tender but not brown.
- Stir in the flour and stir until smooth.
- Gradually stir in milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
- Add dried beef and cook over low heat, until heated through.
- Serve over toast.
Another way to enjoy this dish is to add green peas or spinach and serve it over a baked potato.
All spring fruits were eaten during the May Day meal. Crullers, similar to a funnel cake, served with a fermented drink called sima which is made with lemon juice, sugar, brown sugar, yeast and raisins were traditional foods served on May Day.
Here is a recipe for a perfect way to greet a sunny spring May Day morning. And who doesn’t love strawberries.
Springtime Strawberry and Ricotta Muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup (½ stick) melted and cooled butter
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 cup washed, stemmed and chopped strawberries
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
Pre-heat oven to 375°.
- Spray muffin pans with non-stick spray.
- Sift all dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
- Add eggs, butter and water and stir gently only until the dry ingredients are almost all moistened.
- Add strawberries and ricotta and continue to mix gently until incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Spoon or scoop into prepared muffin pans, filing them about ¾ full.
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.
- Serve warm.
Life should be about celebration. Why not keep the spirit of May Day alive in your family? Perhaps have your children make little paper baskets to fill with flowers and give to neighbors and friends on May Morning. Hang a spray of greenery festooned with ribbons on your door and have a family dinner comprised of delectable springtime dishes.