Category Archives: Book of Days Calendar

Darkest Nights, Deepest Joys

The nights have been growing longer since June and in two weeks time, we reach the culmination of that progression of darkness: it will be the Midwinter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. By now, in early December, as each day grows shorter and each night longer, it is easy to get lost in the darkness. But our celebrations at this time of year call down the light. Last Sunday, we celebrated with candlelight across traditions: It was the First Night of Hanukkah and the First Sunday of Advent. Wednesday night brought the Eve of St. Nicholas and Thursday, St. Nicholas’ Day. He is the first of our midwinter gift bearers, leaving small, simple presents in the shoes of sleeping children. Next week will come Santa Lucia, who also pierces the darkness with light––in Sweden, at the top of the world near the Arctic Circle, where darkness envelops the greater part of each day this time of year, she is known as Sankta Lucia. Young girls there will wear crowns of lit candles on their heads, as star boys accompany them with light of their own, all of them singing the most haunting song, “Sankta Lucia,” an old Italian melody sung with the distinctly soft S sounds that come with Swedish lyrics.

These are some of our favorite nights of the year, these nights leading up to the magic of Christmas. To help you keep track of each of them, here is our December gift to you: the Convivio Book of Days Calendar for December. It’s a PDF document, printable on standard US Letter size paper, a fine companion to this Book of Days (especially on the days when I don’t have time to write, which has happened a lot lately). As we progress through December, the darkness will increase, but so will our candlelight as we complete the Hanukkah festival and go through our Advent journey toward Christmas, preparing the light of the world. The illumination, the imagery, is powerful magic in dark times. We’re here sharing it with you throughout. These are some of our deepest joys.

We’re popping up at two local pop-up markets this week, one in Boca Raton on Friday, and the other on Sunday afternoon right here in Downtown Lake Worth. We’re also working on popping up at the Lake Worth Nutcracker Festival on Saturday December 15… but we keep forgetting to submit our application. Perhaps tomorrow. These, meanwhile, are definitely on the calendar:

REAL MAIL FRIDAYS: Winter Card Writing Social
Friday December 7 from 12 noon to 6 PM
Jaffe Center for Book Arts at Florida Atlantic University’s Wimberly Library, Boca Raton
We’ll be in the company of a few other local makers with a mini pop-up shop of traditional handmade goods for Christmas made by artisans in Germany’s Ergebirge and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s a fun event designed to help you get your holiday cards written and in the mail.

Sunday December 9 from 1 to 6 PM
Revelry Lake Worth
17 South J Street in Downtown Lake Worth, in the outdoor courtyard.
We’ll be in a tent with our Shaker herbs and teas, wreaths made of candy, and traditional handmade goods for Christmas made by artisans in Germany’s Ergebirge and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

And for our friends who are not so near…
Our Convivio Book of Days Catalog pages are full of great little holiday presents, from handmade soaps (the gingerbread man is back!) to genuine Shaker culinary herbs and herbal teas to traditional Christmas decorations from Germany, Spain, and Mexico… our favorite this year may just be the painted tin nativity that opens like a pop-up book and folds down flat when you’re done with it. FREE SHIPPING for domestic orders when you spend $50… spend less and shipping is just a flat rate fee of $8.50. No coupon code necessary; free shipping happens automatically when you spend $50 or more.


Hollantide, and your November Book of Days

We have been, since Halloween, in the midst of a span of time known as Hollantide. It is a time when we traditionally remember our dead. All Hallows (All Saints Day) is what gives the span its name––Hollantide being but a corruption of the word Hallowtide. All Hallows is what names the season and what names Halloween, of course: All Hallow’s Eve. Halloween ushers in All Saints Day which ushers in All Souls Day, which brings us the surreal beauty of Dia de Los Muertos, Day of the Dead. These are the days known in Italy simply as I Morti: The Dead. This is Hollantide at its core: the time of the sacred, the time of the holy, days of remembrance that continue through to Martinmas, which comes on Sunday, the 11th of November.

St. Martin of Tours, who we celebrate on Martinmas, was a Roman military veteran (and we’ll talk of veterans later, for his day also brings Veterans Day) in the fourth century who opted to take up Christian pacifism and is known best for helping a poor, drunken man on a cold winter’s day by tearing his own cloak in two so that the poor fellow could have something to keep him warm. St. Martin has since become a patron saint of tailors, vineyard keepers, winemakers, and drinkers.

What makes Martinmas the bookend to Halloween? The connection may have something to do with the Celtic New Year––Samhain––which, over the centuries, evolved into our Halloween. Samhain marks, as well, in traditional reckoning of time, the transition to winter. With all of these November days since Samhain, since Halloween, our thoughts have gone deeper below the earth, just as the natural world also shifts its energy below the earth. Winter leads us there. Persephone leads us there. The trees take us there: The leaves have flown, all growth now is below, in the roots. This makes for stronger growth above ground come spring and summer: balance. As above, so below. Oh and guess what? November 11 is the old style date of Samhain. And here we are, then, at Martinmas.

It is, as well, Veteran’s Day, when we honor in the United States all who have served in the military. We used to call it Armistice Day, for it originally marked the signing of the armistice that ended the Great War, which is what we used to call World War I before World War II came to be. The armistice that brought peace after years of senseless fighting was signed in 1918 on Martinmas, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month––100 years ago this Sunday, in fact.

So much associated with this day. One more thing: Martinmas is, traditionally, the time to taste the new wine, a fact certainly related to St. Martin’s patronage of winemakers and vineyard keepers. Each year’s Beaujolais Nouveau wines of France, always young wines, are typically released on or around Martinmas, and the day is often accompanied by a good meal featuring roast goose or turkey and chestnuts––typical harvest celebration foods––and, in Italy, Biscotti di San Martino: biscotti that are so hard, the only way to eat them, really, is to first dunk them in wine. My grandparents, all of them immigrants to the US from Italy, all made wine. My father was glad to get married and leave the winemaking that went on in his family home behind… but he married my mother, and her family made wine each autumn, too. The barrels that had to be cleaned out with water and chains, the crates of Zinfandel grapes that had to be washed and crushed… it was hard work, and I wish I could have been part of it. Winemaking is knowledge that has passed by the wayside in my family, drifted away. But certainly San Martino was important to all of my grandparents and to their wine. Grandpa made the wine, but Grandma made the cutte from the same must, the same grape juice, boiled down on the kitchen stove, reduced to a thick syrup, so specific to Lucera, her small Italian city, used in desserts specific, too, to autumn and winter, some of which are full of meaning, too, as we remember those who have passed. Like cicce cutte, a penitential dessert eaten during these Hollantide days and known practically no where else but Lucera: cooked wheat berries with chocolate, chopped almonds, pomegranate, and spices like cloves and cinnamon, and poured over the concoction? That same syrup made during the winemaking. The pomegranate certainly a direct connexion to the story of Persephone, who must go beneath the earth for the winter.

In all the hustle and hubbub of Halloween and Dia de Muertos, it took a while to get to making your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for November… but it’s here now! Our monthly gift to you is a printable PDF; this month’s edition is available right here.


Harvest Makers Marketplace
Sunday November 11 from 10 AM to 4 PM
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton
We’ll be transitioning toward Christmas with a pop-up shop of traditional German advent calendars and advent candles from England, plus handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations from Germany and Mexico and our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more. Plus there’s live music all day: Rio Peterson from 10 AM to 1 PM, Ella Herrera from 1 to 4 PM. It’s going to be a good one!


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.