Category Archives: Advent

God Jul!

Today’s blog post is simply an invitation for the locals to join us at our last Christmas Market of the season: it will be a small and simple one –– a collaboration between Convivio Bookworks and Johan’s Jöe, our favorite Swedish Coffeehouse, in Downtown West Palm Beach. Friday December 16 from 10 AM to 4 PM and then again Saturday & Sunday, December 17 & 18, from 7 AM to 4 PM. Johan’s is at 401 North Dixie Highway: that’s the southwest corner of North Dixie and Fern Street. (And here’s a hint: If you approach from the east, from Flagler Boulevard and the lagoon, you’ll get to see some of our favorite local murals, which are on two tall buildings on either side of Fern Street.)

Johan’s Jöe is wonderful! The best coffee and a menu full of delicious Scandinavian foods and desserts. The place is bathed in white and there are huge purple chairs that make you feel like royalty to sit in them. The plan is for Convivio Bookworks to be there with three tables and our little weekend pop-up market will include Christmas artisan goods and gift ideas from Germany, Mexico, Italy, and, of course, from Sweden. Many other wonderful gift ideas to be found at Johan’s, too: Swedish treats, fun Fika socks, and some excellent wines, too.

Stop by for lunch on Friday, stop by for coffee after the West Palm Beach Greenmarket on Saturday, stop by after visiting Aunt Bessie on Sunday. The real challenge for me will be to wake up in time for 7 AM opening, but I promise to do my best. Merry Christmas & God Jul!



Hope, Joy, Peace, Love

Advent is perhaps the quietest of seasons and it begins on Sunday in the quietest of ways, with the illumination of one simple candle. It’s not yet time for the opening of windows on the Advent calendar, nor the illumination of daily Advent candles –– both of these daily markers of the approach to Christmas begin on the First of December. But the Advent wreath, comprised of a ring of four candles –– three purple and one rose in our tradition –– operates on a different time scale. For each of these four Sundays before Christmas Day, we illuminate an increasing number of candles in the ring, and it begins, always, with the lighting of just one solitary candle, and that will come tonight, marking this First Sunday of Advent.

Advent is quite early this year, and so our Advent wreath will, most certainly, barely be a wreath. It is always Seth’s job to make our Advent wreath from discarded fir branches we pick up at the tree lot where we get our Christmas tree each year, but it’s November still and we have more pumpkins on our mind than Christmas trees, so we’ve no fir branches yet. For this First Sunday of Advent, we’ll begin even more sparely than usual, then, with just a ring of four candles. By the Second Sunday of Advent, surely that ring will be decorated with fresh Fraser fir, and it will smell wonderful. Greenery or no, we will light that first candle tonight: one purple candle, representing Hope. On the Second Sunday of Advent, two purple candles are illuminated: the original one and a new one, representing Peace. On the Third Sunday of Advent we add to those the rose candle, symbolizing Joy. And on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the third purple candle is illuminated, too, this one representing Love. With all four candles illuminated the Advent wreath shines brightest, just as the longest, darkest nights of the year are upon us. It is powerful symbolism and a reminder of how it is up to each of us to be a light bearer in times of darkness, through hope, through joy, through peace and love.

Advent is the beginning of the church year. It has another meaning, too: Arrival. And even if your Christmas celebration is a purely secular one, Advent has its place: this hope and peace and joy and love help us set the stage for the abundance that is Christmas. Hence Advent –– which used to begin on the 12th of November, the day after Martinmas and our annual time of remembering the dead –– brings us a time of preparation, a time of making our house as fair as we are able (as an old French Advent song goes). The house is literal, and it is figurative: we clean our home and prepare it for fir branches and a tree, but we are the house, as well, and before we can properly understand the joy and celebration of Christmas, it is helpful to acknowledge our need to feel those things, lest Christmas come off as too cloying, too sweet. And so we acknowledge the darkness, and understand that the light that pierces the darkness comes from within. Hide not your light under a bushel. And so it is a time, as well, to make amends, and to right wrongs.

While we don’t currently offer the rose and purple candles at our online shop (oh, but I am working on a source for handmade Advent candles for next year), we do offer the daily Advent calendars and candles. The candles are marked with numerals 1 through 24, as are the calendars. These are Old World traditions that have their roots in Germany. I’ve had a traditional glittery Advent calendar from Germany most every year, since I was a kid, when my sister Marietta would bring one home for me at the start of each December from her job at a card and gift shop that was owned by an old German couple, Fred and Jean Beisner. So many of our family’s Christmas traditions still to this day come down to us from the Biesners. And this is why we sell traditional German Advent calendars at the Convivio Bookworks website, and daily Advent candles, too, from Sweden: I loved these things from my childhood, and I hope you’ll love them, too. They are things no one needs, I know, and yet they help root us, and help us approach Christmas with sound footing.

I saved every one of those Advent calendars from my childhood, and even then, knew in my heart they were important enough that I should archive them by writing the date on the back. And here we are, all these years later, and here I am, a peddler of Advent calendars. You can still order yours today (we’ll ship them out today, too). Your order will most likely arrive just in time for the First of December, but if you should have a few days of fun catching up to do, then so be it. If you’re local, order and choose the Local Free Delivery option if you’re in the coastal Lake Worth, Lantana, or West Palm Beach area, and I’ll bring your order to you myself (by vintage Raleigh bicycle if you’re in my neighborhood), and you’ll definitely have your order in time for the start of the month. There’s even a sale going on:

JOYFUL SALE at our online shop
At our online shop, all through Advent and Christmastime: use discount code JOYFUL at checkout for $10 off your purchase of $85, plus get free domestic shipping. And if you think it’ll be difficult to spend $85 at our website, you’ve probably not stopped by in a long while. We add new items every week lately and I think you’ll be pleased with the variety you’ll find. Click here to shop!


It’s Christmas Market Season and we are popping up all over South Florida!

CHRISTMAS MARKET at the German American Social Club, Miami
Saturday December 3 from 10 AM to 5 PM. It’s our first pop-up shop in Miami! We’ll be at this inaugural Christkindlmarkt at the German American Social Club, 11919 SW 56 Street, Miami 33175. Don’t let the “inaugural” fool you: The German American Social Club is home to Florida’s oldest Oktoberfest celebration, so they know what they’re doing! We’re looking forward to joining in the festivities. Admission is free, but you must register ahead of time to reserve your spot, as there are a limited number of tickets. Click here for the details.

KRAMPUSNACHT at the American German Club, Lake Worth
Friday December 9 from 7 to 11 PM. This spooky fun event at the American German Club on West Lantana Road kicks off the club’s annual Christkindlmarkt. We’ll be there with our largest pop-up shop ever. Tickets required, and they always sell out, so buy them early! Click here for full details.

CHRISTKINDLMARKT at the American German Club, Lake Worth
Saturday December 10 from 2 to 10 PM & Sunday December 11 from Noon to 8 PM. The two days following Krampusnacht at the American German Club on West Lantana Road brings their beautiful annual Christkindlmarkt and we will be there with our largest booth ever. Tickets are required, and this event always sells out, too, so buy your tickets early. Click here for full details.

JOHAN’S JÖE in Downtown West Palm Beach
We’re still hammering out the details, but we’re collaborating with our favorite Swedish coffee house in Downtown West Palm Beach on a special little 2-day Christmas pop-up shop: Friday December 16 and Saturday December 17, probably around 10 AM to 2 PM each day. We’ll keep you posted! Johan’s Jöe is located at 401 South Dixie Highway. Everything there is delicious and my mom and my niece love the big purple chairs.


The Night Walks with Heavy Steps

It’s late at night on the 12th (actually it is past midnight, so it is the 13th) and in these same overnight hours will arrive the next of the Midwinter gift bearers: Santa Lucia. She will come to homes mainly in Sweden and in Italy. In Italy, where children have left out their shoes and a bit of hay for her donkey, Santa Lucia will tie little presents to their shoelaces. In Sweden, where the nights this time of year are long and dark indeed, the Lucia will be one of the girls of the household, delivering saffron buns and hot coffee to the sleeping occupants, while donning a wreath of candles on her head. Or she will appear publicly in a procession, her gaggle of star boys and girls dressed in white accompanying her. Santa Lucia brings another magical night to this time of dark midwinter.

Though it be late, there is a gift I wish to bring you, as well, though I am no Santa Lucia. A star boy, maybe, at best. It’s a gift I’ve given on other Santa Lucia Days, but it is so beautiful, and subscribers Carl & Kathleen Maugeri loved it so much when I first shared it with you, I wanted to offer it again, for Carl & Kathleen and for all of you, too. It is a song called Santa Lucia, an old Neapolitan melody, but it is in Swedish, for Lucia is sacred to both Italy and to Sweden, two countries that in many ways could not be more different. I love this melding of cultures and celebration. In Italian, Lucia is pronounced with a “ch” (loo-chee-a) while in Swedish, the C is soft (loo-see-a), and the Swedes add a K to the Santa: Sankta Lucia. The song you’re listening to, if you’re listening to it (and I hope you are) is from one of those processions in Sweden: the young Star Girls dressed in white and young Star Boys, also dressed in white, carrying stars on tall poles. “White,” Jane Siberry says, “the color of truth.” Somewhere amongst them is the Lucia, wearing a wreath of lit candles upon her head. Such a beautiful song and such a beautiful sight. Eight days yet to the solstice, darkness continues to build. We welcome light where we can find it. In this case, it comes with such beauty… like the song itself:

The night walks with heavy steps around farm and cottage.
Around the earth, forsaken by the sun, shadows are lowering.
Then into our dark house she treads with lighted candles,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

The night is vast and mute. Now here reverberate
in all silent rooms a rustle as of wings.
See, on our threshold stands––whiteclad, lights in her hair––
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

“The darkness will soon take flight from the valleys of earth.”
Thus she a wonderful word to us speaks.
The day shall again, reborn, rise from a rosy sky,
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

Here in Lake Worth, we’ve been so busy preparing for the local Christkindlmarkt at the American German Club. It began on Friday with a belated Krampusnacht celebration that segued into the proper Christkindlmarkt weekend. The fact that it was also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Third Sunday of Advent did not escape me. And now that our last big outdoor market of the season is done, we can in this house shift gears toward Christmas preparations, toward making our house fair as we are able. Tonight, on Santa Lucia’s Night, we will go get our Christmas tree from the tree lot in Downtown West Palm Beach. It will most likely be decorated with lights tonight but little else; the ornaments will be “yet to come.”  But that seems a fitting thing to do on this night that walks with heavy steps.


An amalgamation of Santa Lucia posts from the past is the best I can wrangle for you at this late hour. I hope that’ll do… the wish is just as genuine. Image: An early 20th century Swedish Christmas penny postcard designed by Adèle Söderberg (1880-1915).