Nine days in, and here, finally, is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for January. I won’t even bother to apologize. Eight days late is just the way I am right now. Cover star: the Christmas cactus we neglect all year long, blooming spectacularly since Christmas. How all those magnificent blooms burst forth from those gangly stems is anyone’s guess, but each year it surprises me, and it always reminds me of the scene in The Homecoming when Mrs. Walton, played by the wonderfully quirky Patricia Neal, descends to the basement for apples and while she’s there, discovers her Christmas cactus blooming, too. It is, I think for everyone, a most surprising gift from nature.
In creating this year’s January calendar, I realize we completely missed talking about St. Distaff’s Day, and that is something I am sorry about. It is the great traditional post-Christmas Back to Work day for the women, who, in ages past, would return on the 7th of January to their spinning, but not without a great deal of mischief and merriment from the men, who still were underfoot in the house. What tripped me up this year was forgetting that St. Distaff’s Day is a fixed date, while the traditional Back to Work day for the men is a moveable day: Plough Monday falls on the Monday after Epiphany, which this year is the 13th. That also is Copperman’s Day, the great Dutch printers’ holiday in which apprentices got the day to themselves to work on their own print projects. Perhaps we will do a Copperman’s Day print this year. It’s been a while.
With Epiphany, Christmas has passed. Most traditions have us take the Christmas decorations down after Epiphany, but if you, like we, are still holding on, here is good news: there are traditions in which Christmas ends only with Candlemas at the start of February. As for us, our tree is still thirsty and drinking water daily, we’ve just polished off some roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, and Christmas music from the Baltimore Consort is in the air as I sit and type this on the couch, next to the glowing tree. I guess we are following the Candlemas tradition.
Your January Book of Days calendar is, as usual, a printable PDF, so you can print it and pin it to a bulletin board or tape it to the fridge. It’s a good companion to this blog, and a daily reminder that we wish you all good things these winter days.