Monthly Archives: February 2020

Carnevale, Shrovetide, & Pancakes for Supper

Carnevale has been going on in Venice this year since the 8th of February, and soon we come to its conclusion, along with the conclusion of all the magnificent Carnival celebrations that have been happening in the lands where Carnival is celebrated, for Tuesday next brings Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day. The day that follows will bring Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

In Venice and throughout Italy, the traditional symbol for Lent is a gaunt old woman, all skin and bones. She is known as La Vecchia: The Old One. Ah, but La Vecchia won’t show up until next Wednesday once her time of Quaresima begins. For now, it is Carnevale, a time to celebrate to excess. La Vecchia’s counterpart for Carnevale is a plump, jovial fellow wearing a garland of sausages around his neck. We are here to celebrate like there is no tomorrow. Out of that come the costumes and the wigs and the masks. In Venice, these tend to be beautiful and elaborate: exquisite costumes that harken back to the glorious Renaissance and Baroque ages of the city.

Here in the States, when we think of Mardi Gras, we think of New Orleans. But there are other convivial cities where the celebration is grand, too: Mobile and Key West come to mind. We have a burgeoning New Orleans style celebration happening in recent years in nearby Fort Lauderdale, too. But for the most part in this land first settled by English Puritans, we celebrate mainly with pancakes. And while it’s no Carnevale, still, pancakes for supper is not such a bad thing. It’s called Shrovetide in the English tradition––Shrove Tuesday being the British version of Mardi Gras. It’s also known as Pancake Day. We eat pancakes for supper that day because it is a meal that uses up the last of the eggs, milk, and sugar that remained in the larder before the forty fasting days of Lent commenced. Nowadays most of the fasting is done by folks who refrain from eating meat on Fridays. But in earlier times, the fast was more widely observed and much more strict. And so the intention was to refrain from all things of the flesh: meat, eggs, cheese, milk… sex, too, was out.

La Vecchia will be here before you know it, reminding us just how short our time on this earth is. So go ahead: enjoy these days. This is what Carnevale is all about.


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Winter White, or Your February Book of Days

This is what winter white looks like here in Lake Worth. Fitting, too, for with February we reach the bridge that begins our journey from winter to spring, and so the blooms emphasize that. The month began with St. Brigid’s Day. The very name calls to mind a bridge, doesn’t it? That same night, we shifted to Candlemas Eve, with Candlemas the next day: forty days past Christmas and just about halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere. The wheel of the year continues its turning, and though winter’s grip may be tight for a while to come, still, blooms like these Amazon Lilies that have exploded through our yard this month won’t be far off from anywhere now. This is the promise of spring.

And so here is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for February. There must be scores of Amazon Lilies blooming in our yard now, so it’s only natural that they are this month’s cover stars. They pop up above the leaves but dangle their heads down, so that in order to see the blooms, you have to get down on your knees, dip your head down, and look up. When you do, you get the dancing stamens and a green trumpet surrounded by petals of white. Beyond the blooms, the green of the larger canopy, and blue sky. The condensed beauty of early spring: It’s as simple as that.

Our next pop-up shop is this Sunday, February 9!

Sweetheart Makers Marketplace
Sunday February 9 from 10 AM to 4 PM
at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road in Boca Raton
Valentine artisan shopping is the theme this month at one of our favorite markets, with 18 local vendors! Our one-day pop-up boutique will feature traditional and contemporary handmade artisan goods, including tin milagro hearts from Mexico, plus soaps, culinary herbs, and herbal teas from the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, our own letterpress work, and lots more! Plus there’s live music all day: Humble Waters from 10 to 1 and Rio Peterson from 1 to 4. Look for the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on FAU campus roads.