The earliest known celebrations of May Day occurred with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, as well as the Germanic celebration of Walpurgis Night. May Day also has it's roots in the Gaelic celebration of Beltane (or Beltaine), an Irish and Scottish celebration of the cross-quarter day celebrated on May 1st which marks the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the spring equinox and summer solstice.
Most pagan celebrations were either abandoned or "Christianized" during the process of conversion in Europe and now a more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. Here in America May Day is best known for its tradition of dancing around the Maypole and the crowning of the Queen of the May.
My memories of May Day are very much in tune with these typical celebrations of dancing around a ribbon decorated May Pole, as well as getting edible gifts hung on my door. In fact, my clearest memory of May Day involves getting a construction paper cone of the best butter cookies ever on my doorknob for several years when I was in grade school from a boy named Bruce!
Although most of us today associate May Day with these most modern celebrations, it is also designated as an international workers’ holiday commemorating the day in 1886 when laborers, immigrants, artisans and merchants in Chicago waged a general strike to win the eight-hour work day.
So today you can celebrate the 8 hour work day and toast to the Queen of May with a glass full of black currants, raspberries and Champagne.
2 Oz Creme de Cassis
1 Oz Raspberry Liqueur
1/2 Oz Fresh Lime Juice
Orange Peel Rose
Rub glass rim with a lime wedge then dip the glass rim into some rainbow sugar crystals.
Chill glass in the freezer.
Shake the first 3 ingredients with ice then strain into your chilled glass.
Top off with the Champagne.
Garnish with orange peel rose and serve.
PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY