Growing up in Ellsworth, Roberta Keep says she and her four siblings filled May baskets made from ice cream cups and pipe cleaners by their mother, Peg. For her smaller May baskets, Roberta Keep uses school lunch milk cartons poster board for the handles. The boxes are covered with white paper and then wrapped with strips of crepe paper in a rainbow of colors.—JENNIFER OSBORN

Ellsworth Woman Keeps Alive May Day Tradition



ELLSWORTH — A local woman is keeping alive the old Maine tradition of May Baskets while raising money for local organizations.

Growing up in Ellsworth, Roberta Keep says she and her four siblings filled May baskets made from ice cream cups and pipe cleaners by their mother, Peg. For her smaller May baskets, Roberta Keep uses school lunch milk cartons poster board for the handles. The boxes are covered with white paper and then wrapped with strips of crepe paper in a rainbow of colors.—JENNIFER OSBORN
Growing up in Ellsworth, Roberta Keep says she and her four siblings filled May baskets made from ice cream cups and pipe cleaners by their mother, Peg. For her smaller May baskets, Roberta Keep uses school lunch milk cartons poster board for the handles. The boxes are covered with white paper and then wrapped with strips of crepe paper in a rainbow of colors.—JENNIFER OSBORN
Roberta Keep of Ellsworth makes and sells the colorful baskets, which are crafted from old cereal boxes and milk cartons, covered with crepe paper and stuffed with candy or flowers.

Keep explained that when she was growing up, her mother made May baskets. Keep and her four siblings would fill them with candy.

According to tradition, the baskets are left on a friend’s doorstep and the one giving the basket knocks on the door and runs away.

Keep said the friend was supposed to chase you and if they caught you, they could kiss you.

The baskets are available at The First in Ellsworth, where Keep works, as well as Shirley’s Yarns and Crafts in Hancock and the Craft Barn in Ellsworth.

Keep raises on average over a $1,000 a year since she’s been making the baskets and donates money to charities like the American Cancer Society, the Masonic Lodge, and the Ellsworth High School Scholarship Fund.

May baskets, like May poles, have their roots in ancient celebrations of the Earth’s fertility and the coming summer.

For complete story, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]