When the staff at AC Services (Southern) hear the shout “Mayday! Mayday” they have a slightly different reaction from the rest of the UK, who hear the word as meaning a day off in the sizzling sun on a Bank Holiday.
Mayday (or to be technically accurate “m’aidez” derived from the French, “help me!”) means that one of AC Services’ clients is possibly having oven problems or needs advice.
And this May day will probably be no exception, as the day brings the catering corps out in force.
May Day History
May Day itself is historically held on the first Monday of May and traces its origins back to pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. In the UK and Europe, May 1 was considered the first day of summer; and across Europe, with the onset of Christianity, May Day changed to become a popular secular celebration.
Since the reform of the Catholic calendar, May 1 has been recognised as the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, the patron saint of workers. There is a practical reason: this is the time of year when seeding has been completed and therefore, it was the most convenient time to give farm labourers a day off.
Today, we associate May day festivities with traditional rites and celebrations including Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and dancing around a maypole. And food abounds on village greens and in towns throughout the land, leaving the caterers extremely busy, especially when the weather is clement!
Join in the May
Traditions are rife. For instance, in Oxford, May Morning revellers gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College at 6:00 a.m. to listen to the college choir. Kingsbury Episcopi in Somerset, has May Day Festival celebrations with thousands of revellers attracted from all over the South West to enjoy the festivities, which include live bands.
Further south, Padstow in Cornwall holds its annual Obby-Oss (Hobby Horse) day, believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK and a number of towns in Cornwall celebrate the Flower Boat Ritual.
There are events held across the country and if you are catering at an event, make sure that your equipment is up to the job. Prepare for the day in advance, check all appliances carefully and if you think there may be a problem, call the experts! AC Services (Southern) can come and check your Rational oven.
Don’t leave anything to chance or to the last minute. May Day heralds the beginning of the summer and people venture out in their thousands to treat themselves to a meal out or attend an event. Just make sure you are up to the job and pre-empt any mishaps with equipment failure.