Monthly Archives: October 2023


And now tonight brings Hallowe’en. I’ve written a Convivio Dispatch for Hallowe’en and I’d love to share it with you. The Convivio Dispatch is a sister publication to the Convivio Book of Days… one that deals more with story and one that is not published as a blog but rather as a simple email, which arrives in your inbox without much fanfare. Subscribers to the Book of Days Blog do not necessarily receive the Dispatch (in fact, most do not––subscription rates for the Dispatch are much higher than they are for the Book of Days). All to say: If you’d like to be sure of receiving this year’s Convivio Dispatch for Hallowe’en, please do subscribe by clicking here. It’s free, and it’s my absolute pleasure to write these stories for you.

Happy Hallowe’en!

P.S. Your Convivio Book of Days calendar for November will be late! Here are important dates to keep in mind whilst you’re waiting for the next calendar page:
November 1: All Saints Day (All Hallows)
November 2: All Souls Day (Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos)
November 11: Martinmas (St. Martin’s Day)… the conclusion of this time of remembrance known as Hallowtide (which begins tonight, with All Hallow’s Eve: Hallowe’en).


Snap-Apple Night, or Your October Book of Days

Now it is October and I am writing from one of my favorite places: Maine. It’s a lovely foggy morning and the leaves are still green but many are red and orange and golden, too; the swamp maples in particular are shimmering red and the aspens are quaking in the breeze. Seth is reading in a window seat next to the piano that our niece is playing (Chopin’s Waltz in A Minor) and me, I am here with you, in long sleeves and a cardigan, letting you know, finally, that your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for October awaits you. It is, as usual, a printable PDF that you may print and pin to your bulletin board or bookmark digitally for reference throughout this autumnal month. It is a perfect companion to this blog.

I have not written much lately, I know. To be honest, Seth and I have not yet figured out how to escape our sadness over Haden’s passing, and I’ve just not had it in me to write. But I am writing to you now, and the setting––the people, the music, the weather––is ideal. We have just a few days here before the hustle and hubbub of Oktoberfest Miami begins, but while we’re here, we’ll visit with family, visit with friends, maybe visit the Fryeburg Fair. We will pick apples at Thompson Orchard (I think that’s later today) and we will go to Sunday Meeting at Chosen Land, the Shaker Community in neighboring New Gloucester, to sing and pray and visit with our old friends there: Brother Arnold and Sister June and all the friends they welcome in each Sunday.

The change of scenery, we figure, will do us a world of good. Your Book of Days Calendar for this month focuses on the last night of October, which brings one of my very favorite nights of the year: Hallowe’en. My idea of an excellent Hallowe’en celebration is a bit vintage and perhaps archaic. I do not go in for all this blood and gore and chainsaw horror stuff that is a more recent addition to Hallowe’en lore. No, I have always been more interested in jack o’ lanterns and All Hallow’s Eve barn dances and games involving apples and gently ghostly stories and divination and our October cover star is a painting that depicts my kind of Hallowe’en festivity: it’s a painting called “Snap-Apple Night.” The Irish painter Daniel Maclise painted the scene in 1833, and said it was inspired by a Hallowe’en party he had attended in Blarney, Ireland, the year prior. Here’s the caption he included in the exhibition catalog, the first time the painting was exhibited:

There Peggy was dancing with Dan
While Maureen the lead was melting,
To prove how their fortunes ran
With the Cards could Nancy dealt in;
There was Kate, and her sweet-heart Will,
In nuts their true-love burning,
And poor Norah, though smiling still
She’d missed the snap-apple turning.

The scene covers many of the All Hallow’s Eve customs of the day: romantic divination based upon pouring molten lead into water and tossing nuts into the fire, bobbing for apples and other apple games, and, most certainly, the telling of ghost stories. It looks to me like a grand old time. If you, like me, ever feel like you’d have done well living in the early 1800s, this may be your kind of party, too. In case you missed it earlier, CLICK HERE for the calendar. And do enjoy.


Our busy season begins pretty much as soon as we get back home to Lake Worth, and we hope you’ll come see us at our pop-up shops at these upcoming events in South Florida.

We’re celebrating Oktoberfest this year with our friends at the German American Social Club in Miami’s horse country for two long weekends this month: Friday October 13 through Sunday October 15 and again the following weekend, Friday October 20 through Sunday October 22. You must purchase tickets in advance: CLICK HERE for full details and tickets. It is Florida’s original and longest-running Oktoberfest celebration. You’ll find our Convivio Bookworks shop inside the clubhouse (air conditioned comfort!) and we’ll have a huge shop there with all our German handicrafts and specialty foods: handmade nutcrackers, incense smokers, pyramids, and ornaments, plus vintage Hallowe’en German papier mache pieces, and some of our German springtime collection, too (since we rarely get to show the German bunnies and eggs in person). Specialty foods include candies and cookies that have just arrived from Germany, plus more new arrivals from Sweden and my sister, while we were traveling yesterday, was busy pricing all the new Shaker culinary herbs and herbal teas that arrived just before we left for Maine, so all our herbs and teas are as fresh as they can be. My mom’s Millie’s Tea Towels will be there, too. Oktoberfest Miami will be a wonderful time and gosh, we’d love to see you there!

On Saturday October 28, from 3 to 9 PM, we’ll be at Lake Worth’s annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration with a pop-up shop of traditional artesanías méxicanas: handicrafts from Mexico. This free community celebration begins at City Hall on Dixie Highway between Lake Avenue and Lucerne Avenue with face painting and music and then there is a procession to the community arts center, Hatch 1121, which is where you’ll find our pop-up shop outdoors in the courtyard. Jose Mendez, the organizer of this wonderful community event, let us build an ofrenda in honor of Haden before we left. Please visit all the ofrendas that are in the gallery at Hatch, enjoy the mariachi and marimba bands, and be sure to say hola to us. Hatch 1121 is at 1121 Lucerne Avenue in Lake Worth Beach.

Lake Worth’s celebration is on Saturday October 28 but the big Florida Day of the Dead celebration in Fort Lauderdale comes one week later, on Saturday November 4. We’re not quite sure where things begin this year. Usually they begin at Huizenga Plaza, 32 East Las Olas Boulevard, but we’ve heard things may begin this year at Esplanade Park, which is nearby at 400 SW 2nd Street. Both are nearby each other, and it should be pretty obvious that day where the festivities are. Wherever it begins, you’ll find the Convivio Bookworks tent filled with traditional artesanías méxicanas: handicrafts from Mexico, from 3 to 7 PM. We’ll be there until after the Skeleton Procession departs and heads to the second half of the celebration, which continues into the night.

Sorry to report we will not be at the Oktoberfest celebration at the American German Club in Lake Worth this year… but we will be there with our biggest pop-up shop ever for Krampusnacht on Friday evening, December 8, followed by their lovely Christkindlmarkt that weekend, December 9 & 10. We’ll have other Christmas markets to tell you about, too, in Miami and in Boca Raton and in Delray Beach.

Until Oktoberfest, we wish you all good things from Maine.
John & Seth


Image: “Snap-Apple Night, or On the Festival of Hallow Eve” by Daniel Maclise. Oil on canvas, 1833. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.