Category Archives: Book of Days Calendar

Oct. 31, 1928, or your October Book of Days

I can’t remember not loving Halloween. The magic of it, the stories and specials on TV, the smell of the cabinet where we stored the hobo hat––all these things I remember from my earliest days and hold dear. And that may be why I look forward to autumn each year: the apples, the pumpkins, the particular slant of light of October. And while I have no idea who the kids are in this photograph, the one on the far right may just as well be me: If I wasn’t dressed as a hobo wearing that hobo hat we kept in the cabinet, most likely I was Charlie Chaplin. There were only a couple of years that I ventured away from those tried and true Halloween costumes.

Whoever these kids are, they are your cover stars this October, welcoming you to your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for the month. The caption on the back of the photo is handwritten Hallowe’en Oct. 31, 1928, using the old spelling, the one with the apostrophe, the one more closely related to Halloween’s true name (All Hallow’s Eve), the one that helps us better remember the connexion of this magical night to the Days of the Dead that it ushers in each year: All Hallows on the First of November, All Souls on the Second, all the way to Martinmas on the 11th. These are the days known as I Morti in Italy, Dias de los Muertos in Mexico… the days when we remember all who have come and gone before us. In so doing, we keep them with us. And that is powerful magic indeed.

This time of year, we’re here, there, and everywhere. Come see us at one or more of these events or sign up for one of our book arts workshops!

Real Mail Fridays: Apple Social
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University’s Wimberly Library
Boca Raton
Friday October 5 from 2 to 6 PM
We’ll have a mini pop-up shop of autumnal goods.

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration Kick Off
Stache Drinking Den & Coffee Bar
Fort Lauderdale
Friday October 5 from 7 to 11 PM
We’ll be there with a mini pop-up shop of traditional handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from Mexico.

Family Fun Day: Ofrenda Art Exhibition Opening
Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
Fort Lauderdale
Sunday October 7 from 11 AM to 3 PM
We’ll be there with a mini pop-up shop of traditional handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from Mexico.

Autumn Makers Marketplace
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton
Sunday October 21 from 10 AM to 4 PM
Pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos plus our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more.

Calavera Prints!
Linocut workshop with John Cutrone
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Thursday evening October 25 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM, preregistration required.

Booook Arts 101: Hist Whist
Workshop with John Cutrone
Jaffe Center for Book Arts
Sunday October 28 from 1 to 5 PM, preregistration required.

Florida Day of the Dead Celebration
Friday November 2 from 4 to 11 PM
Downtown Fort Lauderdale
We’ll be in the Craft Crypt at Huzienga Park on East Las Olas in our own tent with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos from 4 to 7:30 PM.

Dia de los Muertos Lake Worth
Saturday November 3 from 3 to 10 PM
Hatch 1121 and Downtown Lake Worth, west of Dixie Highway
Our favorite! Find us in the courtyard at Hatch with a pop-up shop of traditional Mexican handicrafts for Dia de los Muertos, Christmas, and everyday. We’ll be there for the full length of the celebration.


Our Lady of the Grape Harvest

By early September, the Northern Hemisphere is well on its way toward autumn by the almanac, and the first big feast of the month is one that looks back toward summer and ahead toward fall. Not widely celebrated in the US, it is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, celebrated each year on the 8th of September and mainly through two fruits: the summery blueberry and the autumnal grape.

In Italy, it is a day for blueberries, for their blueness serves as a reminder of the blue that is traditionally considered the color of Mary’s cloak. Across the Alps in France, it is a day for grapes. Farmers will harvest their finest grapes and bring them to church for blessings, and folks will place bunches of grapes in the hands of statues of Mary throughout the land. No wonder, for the feast is also known there as Our Lady of the Grape Harvest, being that it falls at the height of the grape harvest.

Just a few days ago, with the Convivio Book of Days calendar for September, I included in the blog a short home movie, circa 1950, of my dad and grandparents making wine. (To be honest, the movie clip is less about making wine than the fun that went along with it––it ends with my Grandma and the neighbor, Mamam, dancing with pizza pans.) Though my family is from Italy, I don’t know for sure if they did much with blueberries for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. But considering it’s September, and considering each September Grandpa was busy at his winemaking… I suspect there were always grapes involved. For old times’ sake, here’s the home movie once again, and, as well, a link to the Convivio Book of Days calendar for September, should you have missed it. It’s a PDF, easily printed on standard letter size paper. Enjoy!



Raffaele’s Biretta: Your September Book of Days

And here it is now, September. Just like that, we’ve entered the Ember Months, as I like to call them, for they all fall at the end of the year and they all have the same ending (–ember), save for October, of course, which has a variant of it, but still falls neatly into the Ember Months category. September, October, November, December: these are the months named for numbers: seven, eight, nine, ten… which described these months well before Julius Caesar added July and before Caesar Augustus added August to our calendar, both of them smack in the middle of things. And now they’re out of place a bit, these great months, the numbers that gave them their names out of sync with their calendrical places.

It was in September that my grandparents, both sets of them in their own respective places, even before my parents met, made their wine. My father would describe cleaning out the barrels each year with chains, which sounds like a heavy job and certainly it was. As were all the tasks of winemaking. Dad thought he would make a clean break from winemaking by marrying my mother and moving in with her family. But of course they made wine, too, each September, and so his work continued. There was the washing of the barrels and there was the trip to the market to buy all those grapes––crates of them, Zinfandel being Grandpa DeLuca’s grape of choice. And then the washing and crushing and barreling, the prelude to the magic of fermentation. The first tasting would not come until St. Martin’s Day in November, but what a great and exciting day that would be each autumn.

I never got to taste the wines that any of my grandparents made. By the time I was born, they were all buying their wine in bottles. But there is one connexion to our vintner past still in the family home: a ceramic vessel from Lucera, our ancestral homeland in Puglia, that belonged to my great-grandfather, Raffaele DeLuca. Grandpa’s sister Adelina brought it from Italy and gave it to my grandfather, and there it is in the photo above. Perhaps someone else gave it to Raffaele, for on the wooden stopper are carved and inked the letters T’C, and there are no T’Cs in our ancestral lineage that I have found. Perhaps the letters refer to the potter who made the vessel. Perhaps we’ll never know. It is the oldest thing we have from our past, this vessel that we’re not even sure what to call. It seems particular to the region of Puglia, from which my grandparents hail. My mom and aunt both remember Grandpa calling it a biretta or a fiasca. Fiasca translates neatly to “flask,” but biretta is not an easy word to translate and probably was part of Grandpa’s Lucerine dialect. Oddly enough, biretta is also the name of the hat that is commonly worn by many clergy in the church, from priests to bishops and cardinals. You know it. It’s the square hat, black for priests, red for cardinals, with the four peaks or horns. If you look squarely down on the top of Raffaele DeLuca’s wine vessel, it, too, is shaped just like one of these hats. So maybe that’s where the name comes from. No one knows.

But anyway, all of this is to say that Grandpa’s biretta reminds me always of wine and winemaking, and September reminds me of these things, too… and so perhaps it is only natural that that biretta is the cover star for your Convivio Book of Days calendar for September. The calendar is our monthly gift to you: a printable PDF on standard letter size paper that you can pin to your bulletin board. It’s a nice companion to the blog and with any luck, I’ll be writing about each of the days mentioned in the calendar. And if I don’t, know that I’d like to. It’s a busy time of year––and I’m not even making wine.

Have a wonderful September.

You can find a handsome photograph of Raffaele & Maria DeLuca, my great-grandparents, at our About page. And finally, to send you off, here’s a home movie of winemaking at my grandparents’ home in Brooklyn in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Mom is probably filming the event. Dad is hammering a barrel at the start; Grandpa is holding a barrel hoop and turning it around. The neighbor, Mamam, initiates the Dance of the Pizza Pans with Grandma, who always seems to be saying, “Turn off the camera!” I love all these people. They are the reason behind the Convivio Book of Days.