Author Archives: John Cutrone

Waffle Day

Gather round the table: tradition would have us eat waffles today. It’s a tradition around which folks generally rally with pleasure, for is there anything quite like a waffle? So simple, yet so delicious. And the reasoning behind our waffle-eating today is such a roundabout and circuitous one. Allow me to tell you the story:

It begins with the Feast of the Annunciation, which typically is on the 25th of March. But, when the feast coincides with Holy Week (this year it fell on Palm Sunday), Holy Week takes precedence and the Feast of the Annunciation is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter, which is where we’re at today. The Feast of the Annunciation is our first step toward the annual celebration of Christmas, for it marks the day that the archangel Gabriel visited Mary to deliver the news that she was to bear a child, a son, and that that child would be the light of the world, the son of God. March 25th is precisely nine months to the nativity.

It is traditionally a day of contemplative prayer, but early in the history of this holiday, it took on a nickname from its connection to Mary: Lady Day. Indeed, many people still call the Feast of the Annunciation Lady Day. And here’s where the waffles come in: In Sweden, the day is called Vårfrudagen, which essentially translates to “Our Lady Day.” But Vårfrudagen, in some Swedish dialects, is awfully close in both spelling and pronunciation to Våffeldagen, which translates to “Waffle Day.” Swedes, as a result of this misunderstanding, have for centuries been eating waffles on Lady Day. It’s a tradition that has spilled over to wherever Swedes have left their mark, this annual excuse to eat waffles at any time of day on Vårfrudagen––breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The waffles in Sweden today are typically served with whipped cream and lingonberries or cloudberries. However and whenever you serve them (Waffles for dinner? Yeah!), enjoy. Do not be afraid. Perhaps you, too, have found favor with God.

Image: “Stillleben mit Zinntellern, Steinkrug und Waffeln” (Still Life with Pewter Plates, Stein and Waffles) by Georg Flegel. Oil on wood, 17th century [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Good Companions, and Your April Book of Days

Easter brought in April this year. In my family, Easter is one of those holidays that requires days of preparation followed by a good six or seven hours at the table. It begins with the felatta, a traditional platter of cured meats and cheeses and thick fresh orange slices, baskets of two different kinds of homemade taralli (Grandma Cutrone’s and Grandma DeLuca’s), pizza rustica––a savory pie of meats and cheeses and eggs, and dishes of fresh local mozzarella and ricotta. There are the hard boiled eggs, brightly colored, and we have egg fights with them to see whose eggs remain uncracked when they are pitted against each other, tip to tip and butt to butt… and so there are lots of eggs to eat, too. This alone goes on for a good hour and change. And this is just the first course.

So forgive me, I didn’t get to the April edition of your monthly Convivio Book of Days calendar until today, Easter Monday. Which, yes, is a national holiday in many fine countries (like Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Iceland), mostly in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. I didn’t include Easter Monday on the calendar, but you will find a few interesting days, mostly toward the end of the month, as well as a real favorite day for many of you: Våffeldagen, or Waffle Day––a more populist name for the Feast of the Annunciation (known yet again as Lady Day). It’s typically on the 25th of March, but in years when the feast falls on Palm Sunday (as it did this year), Palm Sunday takes precedence and Lady Day is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. Which this year happens to be April 9th… so plan now on eating waffles that day.

Your best bet? Print out the April Convivio Book of Days (it’s a PDF, after all, designed to be printed on standard US Letter paper), pin it to your bulletin board, and use it as a companion to the blog (and as a good reminder to enjoy waffles on April 9). This month’s cover star is rather angelic, and that’s a good companion to have, as well. Enjoy.

 

Light

I’ve been off from work this past week, and it was a wise move, taking off for Holy Week. The days were spent on projects and in preparation. I got to spend time with Seth and with the cat as I finished binding a book that someone had ordered and got to work in earnest once more on the book proposal for the Convivio Book of Days. I started fresh, fresh like spring, and I feel better about the proposal I’ve begun this week, much better than the one I began last fall. My friend Cricket gave me a bag of coffee as inspiration for my writing, and all that’s left is enough for one cup: the cup of coffee I will have when I send her the finished proposal.

We also got to help my mom and sister with Easter baking and we got to go on our annual Holy Thursday night pilgrimage of three churches. It was Seth and me on that pilgrimage and we were out late into the moonlit night. So beautiful. And this year I got to do something I had never done before: I went to church for Good Friday. And that was fine, church was. But the sermon made me uncomfortable and I felt a bit disconnected, until it was all over, when we all left the old church in silence, as we are to do on Good Friday. But as we left, I could hear the sounds of the Creole choir, also from our church. The Creole congregation were in the midst of the Stations of the Cross, outdoors on the sidewalk in front of the older church building, the one from the late 1800s. Their music drew me in and I gathered round the old church with them, leaning up against a live oak tree. They were at the final station. There was wailing and sorrow and there was singing I had never heard before but which sounded so familiar. They made their way then to the main church, the larger, newer one, the one built in 1913. They entered, singing, and I went on my way, content, happier for having run into this extension of myself.

Saturday night, I’ll be back, for the Easter Vigil. It is the hours-long Mass that brings in Eastertide. It can begin only after darkness has fallen, for it is then the third day, which used to confuse me a lot until I realized that different cultures have different ways of reckoning time. No one way is right, for time is such a fluid thing and yet an invention of our making. It will be the beginning of Easter and the second night of Passover, too. We will be there, sitting, standing, kneeling, singing, praying, in a service that will begin in darkness and end in light––a central theme to the Easter Vigil. A fire is kindled and the one light is the source that illuminates all the candles in the church: the candles on the altar, the candles we hold cupped in our hands. We are reminded that light overcomes darkness. We are invited to be that light.