From Europe with Love

The first day of May has become a popular celebration best known for its traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May but it’s not just the UK that celebrates the beginning of summer.

Our deliciously moreish nibbles are made by artisanal producers discovered from far flung corners of Europe so here’s our whistle-stop tour of some of their May Day customs and shenanigans:

Our neighbours, the French give a sprig of lily of the valley as a symbol of springtime on 1st May courtesy of a custom begun by their 16th century King, Charles IX. What a shame you can’t eat them like our yummy Parsley Swirls

In Switzerland May celebrations are reserved just for children. The festival begins on the second weekend in May with children singing songs from door-to-door to receive eggs, sugar and flour in return to make traditional pastries. (We hope they knock on the door of the Cornu bakery and chat with Marc Andre, the baker of our marvellous Twists for a few tips!)

In rural regions of Germany, women usually place roses or rice in the form of a heart at the house of their beloved one. Yes, ‘purely for the love of it’ of course!

Over in Italy May Day is called Calendimaggio and is a seasonal feast held to celebrate the arrival of spring. ‘Maggerini’ sing to the inhabitants of the houses they visit in exchange for gifts, traditionally eggs, wine, food or sweets. (How about some Arden’s Bakes for the vocal chords m’amici?)

Whether you sing, give flowers and gifts or send the kids out on the streets for free food, the May Day bank holiday has inspired our lovely recipe-guru Nancy to come up with this great recipe for Asparagus, Ham and Cheese Bites (click here for recipe) featuring that super seasonal sprig – asparagus. It’s perfect nibbly finger food if you’re scoffing a buffet or firing up the ‘barbie’ outdoors and it’s a sophisticated starter for a sit-down ‘do’. Don’t forget to liberally scatter some Arden’s Bites on the side for added crunch.

If you look closely you would swear that the ham is dancing quite seductively around the asparagus maypole! How about that for a May Day celebration?

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