Category Archives: Day of the Dead

A Sale Instead of a Street Fair

We’re approaching Hallowe’en and soon after, Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead. It is the time of year when we traditionally remember those who have gone before. Normally, you’ll find us at two very big events in South Florida around now, as we set up shop at the street fairs for Dia de Muertos Lake Worth and Florida Day of the Dead in Fort Lauderdale. Both celebrations are such great fun and such beautiful events that bring our community together. This year, due to social distancing, these gatherings won’t be happening… so instead of finding our artisan goods at a street fair, we thought we’d offer you a sale, instead. It’s an opportunity for you to stock up on all you might need for Dia de Muertos and Advent and Christmas, too, with our Autumn Sale. Here it is (click on the picture to make it bigger!):

Save $10 off your purchase when you spend $75 or more at our website, plus free domestic shipping. That’s a substantial savings of $18.50. Use the discount code STREETFAIR when you check out. 

Click here for our catalog pages, which are filled with traditional artisan goods for Dia de Muertos from San Miguel de Allende, Quintana Roo, Jalisco, and other parts of Mexico. You’ll also find traditional sparkly Advent calendars from Germany to count down the dark nights toward Christmas the month of December (as well as Advent candles from England), and an abundance of artisan goods for Yuletide, too: all made by hand in Germany, Sweden, Italy, and Mexico. Plus lots of great stocking stuffers: fir balsam pillows from the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, plus their full line of herbal teas and culinary herbs. Our new line of beautiful embroidered protective face masks, made by an extended family of artisans in Chiapas, Mexico, also make great stocking stuffers.

So, while we won’t see you this year at Dia de Muertos Lake Worth or Florida Day of the Dead, or at the Sankta Lucia Festival or at the Christkindlmarkt, either… a big sale like this is perhaps the next best thing. Please support small businesses and artisans: your transactional support at uncertain times means the world to real people who make real things. We all appreciate it, honest. Don’t forget to use the discount code: STREETFAIR.


Autumn Glow, or Your October Book of Days

We are well into autumn now. It is October, the Feast, today on this second day of the month, of the Guardian Angels, and this evening, with the setting sun, comes Sukkot in the Jewish calendar, a holiday known also as the Feast of Tabernacles. A lot of the holidays / holy days that are not in my own family’s tradition are things I experience peripherally, and this is the case with Sukkot, which I associate with citrus. In particular, it is the fruit called etrog that is part of the Sukkot holiday. It is a very thick skinned citrus with an intoxicating fragrance. I’ve only ever held one etrog, but the experience stuck with me, for scent is a great portal to memory, is it not?

And so this year this is how October begins, with angels and intoxicating fragrance. It is for us a time of birthdays, too: Seth’s birthday was on the 30th of September, and my mom, she turns 94 today on the 2nd. At least we think so. We always celebrated on the 3rd, but a few years ago documentation surfaced that suggested we’d been celebrating on the wrong day and that Mom was actually born on the 2nd. And yet stories persist that really support the idea that she was born on the 3rd, for her middle name is Rosaria, bestowed upon her because she was born on the Feast of the Madonna del Rosario… which is on the 7th, but is often moved to the First Sunday of October, and in 1926, guess what? The First Sunday of October was on the 3rd. Anyway, our policy now is pretty much to just celebrate both days. Things were no different with her father: we celebrated Grandpa’s birthday on the 23rd of November forever, but looking back at records, the 21st may have been more accurate. So. What can you do? Perhaps there are benefits to a nonchalant approach to things like birthdays.

Be that as it may, I am here today mainly to bestow our monthly gift upon you: it’s the Convivio Book of Days calendar, this time for October. Cover star: the beautiful barns at Chosen Land, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, with a maple in the foreground, glowing golden. Appropriate for so many reasons: 1) no place does autumn quite like New England; 2) Seth and I were visiting Chosen Land this very time of year two Octobers ago (and that’s when I snapped that photo); and 3) it is the month of Hallowe’en, a most spirited time of year, and I don’t think I know of any place that is so attuned to the spirits of those who have come and gone quite so much as Chosen Land. The Shakers were and are very welcoming to the idea that the spirit world is quite adjacent to the physical world, and mysteries run deep there. These are the things Seth and I like to tap into as this beautiful month unfolds and as we approach Hallowe’en at its close… which ushers in all the Days of the Dead that follow, through early November, to Martinmas on the 11th. The calendar will serve as a good companion to this blog, and to the annual Convivio Hallowe’en Dispatch from Lake Worth… and if you’d like to receive that story, please subscribe here. (The Convivio Dispatch is a whole other animal from the Convivio Book of Days Blog; it is a very occasional newsletter… but more often than not it’s not a newsletter at all and most definitely more of a story––essentially it is me, writing creative nonfiction.) If you don’t get it in your inbox already… well, I do think you’ll like getting it.

October comes and we are closer to the height of our red letter days in the wheel of the year, the ones that brighten the darkness: Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Advent, the precursor to Christmas. We heartily believe in the value of both: of remembering those who came before and keeping those channels open, and of a slow approach to Christmas. Please take a look, if you will, by clicking here. You’ll see pages devoted just to Dia de Muertos and to Advent, and to lots of other things… oh, and that’s my mom you’ll see there, the birthday girl herself, at the top of the page, fishing from a row boat, circa 1950.

Our very best wishes to you this golden October and these autumnal days. Please stay safe, please stay well, please treat each other as you would hope to be treated. Much love involved.


Dia de Los Muertos: Remembering

Did you read the Convivio Dispatch for Halloween? The story, just slightly ghostly, was titled “That Which is So Universal,” and if you are subscribed to my Dispatches from Lake Worth, it would have arrived as a plain text email to your inbox on Halloween. If it did not, then it is either in your junk mail box, or you are not subscribed. If you are not and you’d like to be, just click here to do so. I’ll see that you get the story.

The archway in the photo above is the entry to Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach, where I was walking late this morning. Home now, but there is much to do to prepare for our Dia de Los Muertos celebration, which, for us this year, will be spread out over a few days. Tonight Seth and I will be together and we will remember our loved ones. Saturday, though, is the day we will get together with my mom and sister for more festivity, for it is the day of our annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration here in Lake Worth. My mom and sister and Seth and I will all be there, along with the mariachi and the dancers, the wonderful food, and all the people dressed as Catrinas and Calaveras. We’ll have a booth selling our traditional handicrafts from the artisans of San Miguel de Allende. It is an amazing night in our community, and I hope you can join us if you are nearby. Here is a link to the event’s webpage, and here is a link to the event’s Facebook event page. It all takes place at Hatch 1121 (the old Lake Worth Shuffleboard Courts) at 1121 Lucerne Avenue (between Lake and Lucerne just west of Dixie Highway) in Downtown Lake Worth. The music and the dancing and the food at this celebration are wonderful, but mostly it is the community that impresses me so much. Please come, and if you do, be sure to say hello.

Some more photos… here is a Pan de Muertos from La Villa Bakery in Boca Raton:

Our family version, for which I posted a recipe in yesterday’s chapter of the blog, looks a bit different. Ours is braided and long, not round, and the bones are always white, as we make sure to avoid sprinkling the sugar on them, and our sugar topping is actually a blend of cinnamon, sugar, and anise seeds. And then here is a photo of Cicci Cutto:

That’s a close up shot of the concoction, which is made from pomegranates, roasted almonds and hazelnuts, cooked wheat grain, and small chunks of chocolate, all swimming in an unusual homemade spiced syrup called cutto, traditionally made from grape juice reduced over a low flame for many hours. We call it U Cutto in our dialect from Lucera, and it is the subject of a book I made many years ago. Someone recently bought a copy and it was nice to get reacquainted with this work of mine from two decades ago. My mom and sister made the cicci cutto for Halloween two nights ago, but we were too full to eat it then, so we are saving it for Saturday’s gathering. In some parts of Italy it is made for December 13th: Santa Lucia’s Day, but my grandmother always made for this time of year, these autumnal days of the dead known in Italy as I Morti. It is a somewhat penitential dessert, something rich and complex that invites us to think about what we are eating and its connection to story and metaphor… especially that of Persephone and her pomegranate seeds and her yearly descent down below the earth. We follow in her footsteps at this time of increasing darkness.

And so we do these things we do just at this time of year, this time of increasing darkness, and we remember those who have come and gone before us. It is good, it is right, to do this, shining love and light across time and space and connecting us all.

¡Feliz dia de los muertos!