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