Monthly Archives: April 2020

Spring into Summer

April is ending, May beginning, and we reach the opposite spoke of the year that we were at last fall when October was ending. We step lightly into summer with the start of May, not by the almanac, but by traditional reckoning of time.

The Celts called this time Beltane (pronounced bowl-tan-a). Nowadays, this night is known best as May Eve and Walpurgis Night, named for St. Walpurga. In Germany, it is Walpurgisnacht, famed for being a night when witches gather. Gathering, however, is not in the cards this Walpurgis Night for anyone, save perhaps the occasional mob protesting social distancing and the temporary closure of hair salons. They can do what they want (and they will, with little regard for others), but for the more logical amongst you, may I suggest marking this night of transition simply, peacefully, at home, and with great respect for each other and the planet. It is a night of higher vibration, after all, for with it, we reach the halfway point between spring equinox and summer solstice. So why not distill the essence of the traditional celebrations and welcome them into our homes?

So. Here are my suggestions: First, it is traditionally a night to spend outdoors. May I suggest the backyard? Bonfires are traditional, so maybe light a candle, taking the best care with it, of course. In Scandinavia sparkling wine is traditional, as is gravlax, a smoked cured salmon. We happen to have the sparkling wine and the smoked salmon on hand. Perhaps your pantry holds some, as well. And if not, well, hopefully there is something celebratory to be found there.

These are days, for sure, where we do the best we can. There is nothing at all wrong with that. Traditions are wonderful, but what counts most is what’s in the heart. If social distancing means you are celebrating alone tonight, know that we are celebrating with you. Stare up at the moon, stare up at the stars; we’re looking at them, too.

Image: The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas, 1889. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.


Rounding Out April

April is soon coming to a close, and I apologize, I’ve definitely fallen off the ball with Book of Days updates since Easter. Since then, St. George’s Day has come and gone, as has the mysterious St. Mark’s Eve and his day, too, and hopefully the people of Venice were able to make risi e bisi, their traditional meal for the day, a risotto of rice and peas with pancetta and onion. I, for one, have been cooking up a storm (Sunday I made tomato sauce and a cardamom pear coffee cake) and one big question is once I switch back from trousers with drawstrings to trousers that have actual buttons and zippers, will I have to leave that top button open? The cat seems to like us being home, too; she now takes an additional meal at 2 in the afternoon.

Ramadan began this past week, too. A central aspect of this month-long celebration is daytime fasting. The fasting is a reminder of the many people who are less fortunate than ourselves, and in this strange time of home quarantine and isolation, it is good to remember this. It is so very easy to get caught up in our own troubles, no? Chances are extremely good that there is always someone having a much rougher day than we are. Why not then be kind and patient with everyone? This is a central aspect of Ramadan, but it should just as well be a central premise of living for us all.

Ramadan continues until the next crescent moon, when Eid al-Fitr, the Sweet Festival, begins. Beautiful Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr cards, all by our friend Manal Aman of Hello Holy Days! in Canada, are available at our online catalog, and right now they are all 15% off with code SPRING15 (through April 30). Other spring and summer items are included, as well as all of our handmade soaps. Plus free domestic shipping when you spend $50 across our catalog.

One last thing today: working from home has meant finding creative solutions to new challenges. One of my challenges as Director of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University Libraries is to maintain a connection with our students and our book arts enthusiasts, and so last month, despite my stage fright, I began a weekly Facebook Live broadcast called Book Arts 101: Home Edition, which airs live on the Facebook page of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts each Wednesday at 3 PM Eastern Daylight Time. We talk books and craft and stories and the broadcasts originate here, at the Convivio Bookworks studio. Basically, if it’s in my home or on the premises, it’s fair game. This Wednesday’s episode is going to be a love letter, of sorts, to Lake Worth, the quirky town we call home. I’ll be showing and talking about things in our home that were made in Lake Worth or that delve into its history. If you’re a fan of my Convivio Dispatches from Lake Worth, you’ll probably enjoy Wednesday’s broadcast. And if you’re not familiar with the Dispatches, you can check one out by clicking here. The Convivio Dispatch is quite a different animal than this blog. The Dispatches are more based in story, and they are not collected in a blog, but rather come to you as a very occasional email, as they always have.

Anyway, won’t you join us on Wednesday? If you can’t make it at 3 Eastern, worry not, the videos are later available at the Convivio Bookworks Facebook page. There have been four so far, and we’ll continue them for as long as they feel needed.



My grandma Assunta taught me her tradition for this night, being Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday. It is the night before Good Friday, and it was her tradition to visit three churches by dark of night. It is the Night Watch that begins after mass is celebrated. By then the sun has set and night has fallen. The Pange Lingua, the beloved song of St. Thomas Aquinas, has been sung, the statues have been covered in purple cloth, the blessed sacrament set on display amongst lit candles. The lights in the church are dimmed, and the crowds have gone, leaving but a few hardy souls who will sit and hold their vigil. Their pilgrimage, like my grandmother’s, will include three churches, or perhaps even seven. Grandma’s number was three. Seth and I do this each year, bringing the memory of all our loved ones with us, and this year we can’t, of course. But we have memories, and we have photographs of the pilgrimages we’ve made on Holy Thursdays in years past. It is always a night charged with mystery and magic and I always feel welcome in these churches, welcome like a weary traveler or a long lost son for whom all is forgiven, no questions asked. And so, purposefully, this chapter of the Convivio Book of Days is short on words, and heavily laden with images: to provide a pilgrimage of sorts for any of you who wish to join us, for these are the sights we see each year on this night, with the wind blowing off the ocean and the moon shining brightly, way up in the sky, beyond the towers and steeples of the churches, beyond the palm trees, beyond the clouds that drift like continents afloat on tectonic plates. And so we bid you peace on this night watch, and the hope that all will be well.