Category Archives: St. Clement’s Day

Sts. Clem & Cecilia

And now, on the approach to Thanksgiving, comes St. Cecilia’s Day and St. Clement’s Day. Cecilia is celebrated on the 22nd of November; she is a patron saint of music and musicians. Old Clem is celebrated on the 23rd; he is a patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers.

Come, all you Vulcans, strong and stout,
Unto St Clem I pray turn out;
For now St Clem’s going round the town:
His coach and six goes merrily round.

It was a time to go “Clementing” in ages past: like trick or treating, only on the 23rd of November. Kids would knock on doors, hoping for treats in exchange for singing rhymes like this one:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

There is an old, mostly forgotten tradition of New York in which kids would go door to door at Thanksgiving. My mom remembers doing this when she was a girl. I often wonder if there is some connexion between this and the Clementing of November 2, especially since, some years, Thanksgiving falls on St. Clement’s Day. Be that as it may, we don’t see much of either tradition these days (and some of us are still eating our Halloween candy from trick or treating!).

St. Cecilia’s Day on the 22nd is, of course, a fine day for music. And it is a traditional day for music: concerts in honor of St. Cecilia’s Day are known to have been performed since at least 1570 in France. Here in our home, we’ll soon be dusting off some music for the Advent season, that time of preparation before Christmas. St. Cecilia each year reminds us that it is time to do this.

It is, by the way, a good time to order Advent candles and calendars from our Convivio Book of Days Catalog! Especially if you feel a bit rushed by Christmas, even before Thanksgiving has come. A simple thing like an Advent candle that you light each night or an Advent calendar that you open a door on each day can really help bring some perspective to things. Ours are the traditional kinds, made in Europe, where these traditions began, and it’s all part of what we call the Slow Christmas Movement. And we offer free domestic shipping when you spend $50!

 

COME SEE US!
We’re popping up at quite a few local South Florida venues in the next few weeks!

Sankta Lucia Festival & Julbasar (Christmas Bazaar)
Saturday November 23 from 11 AM to 3 PM
at First United Methodist Church
625 NE Mizner Boulevard in Boca Raton
Our pop-up shop will focus on traditional European advent calendars and advent candles, plus handmade Christmas ornaments and decorations from Sweden, and my mom’s famous candy wreaths. It’s a beautiful event, complete with a Lucia with a wreath of candles on her head! Brought to you by SWEA, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association.

Harvest Makers Marketplace
Sunday November 24 from 10 AM to 4 PM
at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road in 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, Sweden, and Mexico and our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more (like my mom’s famous candy wreaths). Plus there’s live music almost all day: Rio Peterson from 10 to 1 and those three amazing triplets, The Lubben Brothers, from 1:30 to 4 PM. It’s going to be a good one! Look for the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on FAU campus roads.

Real Mail Fridays: Winter Card Writing Social
Friday December 6 from noon to 6 PM
at Jaffe Center for Book Arts in the Library at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road in Boca Raton
There’ll be a mini Makers Marketplace at this annual event so you can do a little shopping, but also bring your Christmas cards and Hanukkah cards and New Year cards and get the task of writing them started (or tackled) in a festive environment with other like minded souls. Great fun!

Christkindlmarkt
Saturday & Sunday December 7 & 8 (2 to 9 PM on Saturday; 1 to 8 PM on Sunday)
at the American German Club
5111 Lantana Road in Lake Worth
Convivio Bookworks will be part of this old time German Christmas market in suburban Lake Worth. At our booth you’ll find traditional handmade German Christmas items, and we’ll throw in some other handmade items from our Swedish and Mexican collections, too, as well as Shaker herbs & teas, some letterpress goods, and my mom’s famous handmade candy wreaths.

Undiscovered: An Inclusive Arts Festival
Saturday December 14 from 10 AM to 4 PM (but we have to pack up by 3!)
at Palm Beach Habilitation Center
4522 South Congress Avenue in Lake Worth
We’re so excited to take part in this inaugural arts fair at the Hab Center, which does such wonderful work helping folks with disabilities become more independent through training and employment. There are art projects that EVERYONE can participate in, and there’s a pop up market; we’ll be there with lots of great artisan goods from our catalog.

Holiday Night Market
Saturday December 14 from 4 to 8 PM
at Social House
512 Lucerne Avenue in Downtown Lake Worth
It’s always a special night at Social House. We’ll be showing our Christmas artisan goods and Shaker teas (and my mom’s famous candy wreaths). One of our favorite places!

Midwinter Makers Marketplace
Sunday December 15 from 10 AM to 4 PM
at Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road in Boca Raton
It’s full swing yuletide and we’ll be showing our handmade artisan Christmas ornaments and decorations from Germany, Sweden, and Mexico and our full line of Shaker herbs & teas and more (like my mom’s famous candy wreaths). Plus there’s live music almost all day: Ella Herrera from 10 to 1 and Rio Peterson from 1 to 4. Look for the blue & white MAKERS MARKETPLACE signs on FAU campus roads.

Revelry Sip & Shop
Sunday December 15 from 1 to 6 PM
at Revelry Lake Worth
17 South J Street in Downtown Lake Worth
Find us in the courtyard with our handmade Christmas artisan goods and Shaker herbs and teas and more (including my mom’s famous candy wreaths again!). They’re serving mimosas!

 

Image: St. Cecilia by Guido Reni. Oil on canvas, 1606. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Come all You Vulcans, Strong & Stout

We are on the fast approach to Thanksgiving, a moveable feast, and with it this year come two saints’ days worthy of note: St. Cecilia’s Day on Thanksgiving Day itself, the 22nd of November, and St. Clement’s Day the next day, the 23rd. St. Cecilia is noteworthy as she is a patron saint of musicians and so her day is a fine one to enjoy their labor. In fact, concerts in honor of St. Cecilia on her feast day go back to at least 1570 in France.

As for Old Clem, he is a patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers. In days when there were more smiths at work, the night of his feast day was a night when they would gather and drink and process about town, stopping at all the pubs. At some point, one of their number, who was dressed as St. Clement, would arise and deliver the following lines:

I am the real St. Clement, the first founder of brass, iron, and steel, from the ore. I have been to Mount Etna, where the god Vulcan first built his forge, and forged the armour and thunderbolts for the god Jupiter. I have been through the deserts of Arabia; through Asia, Africa, and America; through the city of Pongrove; through the town of Jipmingo; and all the northern parts of Scotland. I arrived in London on the twenty-third of November, and came down to Her Majesty’s dockyard at Woolwich, to see how all the gentleman Vulcans came on there. I found them all hard at work, and wish to leave them on the twenty-fourth.

Another in the party then adds:

Come, all you Vulcans stout and strong,
Unto St. Clem we do belong.
I know this house is well prepared
With plenty of money and good strong beer;
And we must drink before we part,
All for to cheer each merry heart.
Come, all you Vulcans, strong and stout,
Unto St Clem I pray turn out;
For now St Clem’s going round the town:
His coach and six goes merrily round.

It is a day when children would go “Clementing”––knocking on doors, singing rhymes in exchange for treats like oranges and apples. Rhymes like this one:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

As I mentioned in the Convivio Dispatch for Halloween (if you didn’t get it in your email box and would like it, let me know and I’ll send it your way, for the Convivio Dispatch is something different from the Convivio Book of Days blog), my mother does not remember trick or treating at Halloween so much as she remembers doing something like it at Thanksgiving. She is Brooklyn born and bred, and there is an old New York Thanksgiving tradition known as the Ragamuffin Parade (though the name was news to her when I told her about it recently). It was popular at the turn of the last century, and began fading away by the mid 1900s. Kids would dress as ragamuffins and knock on doors, asking, “Something for Thanksgiving?”

Such interesting days, these days of late November. Thanksgiving always falls around my grandpa’s birthday, who was born way back in 1895. It was a birthday we celebrated each year on the 23rd, even though we learned later that Grandpa’s birthday may have been the 21st. It was on a Thanksgiving night, too, that my dad was visited by the ghost of his mother (which is another story that came up in that same Convivio Dispatch for Halloween). Perhaps it is this combination of ghostly stories and Mom’s Thanksgiving variation of trick or treating that always has me thinking of Thanksgiving as an extension of the autumnal days when we remember our dead. But Thanksgiving is a bit like that, no? We gather together, we share a fine meal, and for those of us who have been on this constantly rotating planet a good many years, we remember folks who have come and gone, stories that were told ages ago, and we get a bit wistful. And there is nothing wrong with that. These are all good things to be thankful for.

It is, by the way, a good time to order Advent candles and calendars from our Convivio Book of Days Catalog! Especially if you feel a bit rushed by Christmas (Why are there wreaths hanging on the doors of Lake Worth City Hall even before Thanksgiving?), a simple thing like an Advent candle that you light each night or an Advent calendar that you open a door on each day can really help bring some perspective to things. Ours are the traditional kinds: a few of our Advent calendars are made in England, but most are made in Germany, where the tradition began. And the daily Advent candles are made in England. We light ours each night at dinner. It’s part of what we call the Slow Christmas Movement. And we offer free domestic shipping when you spend $50!

Image: “Hearty Thanksgiving Greeting.” Chromolithograph postcard by John Winsch, 1910. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Postcards. [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

 

Oranges & Lemons

“Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s….” Here’s a reprint of last year’s Book of Days chapter from the 23rd of November, Old Clem’s Night. Sometimes (like today) it seems hard to write it any better than it was the year before, and sometimes (like today) I am on vacation: Seth and I are currently in snowy Illinois, preparing for Thanksgiving with family. Follow our adventures on Instagram (#illinoisthanksgiving) and for today, enjoy our reprint of this fascinating minor holiday. Read to the end of the chapter for a bonus gift that wasn’t part of last year’s chapter. Happy Old Clem’s Night!

Oranges and Lemons

November 23 is the feast day of St. Clement: St. Clement’s Day, or Old Clem’s Night in England. He’s the patron saint of metal workers and blacksmiths, and Old Clem’s Night traditionally begins at the anvil, which is struck pretty consistently in the blacksmith’s trade, but on Old Clem’s Night, there is the addition of a small measure of gunpowder. The ensuing small explosion is what rings in the celebration. It’s a boisterous one, to be sure, involving processions of smiths, some of whom are dressed as St. Clement, with stops at every tavern along the way. We can assume there was no shortage of ale on Old Clem’s Night, and there also was no shortage of toasts and huzzahs for the smiths. Toasts like:

Health to the jolly blacksmith, the best of all fellows,
Who works at his anvil while the boy blows the bellows!

One of the legends of St. Clement places him as the very first man to refine iron, and to shoe a horse. That’s not terribly likely, however, and our ancestors may have been confusing Old Clem with a mythical blacksmith of Saxon origin: Wayland the Smith, whose feast day was also about this same time of year. But St. Clement has always gathered romantic legends about him. What we know for sure is he was one of the early Christian martyrs, being thrown overboard from a boat and fixed to an old iron anchor in the First Century AD.

He’s an interesting fellow, Old Clem. While the smiths were most likely getting drunk on ale, the children were going about clementing: going door to door, begging for apples and pears and nuts in exchange for singing old rhymes. When I asked my mother many years ago about her recollections of trick-or-treating when she was a little girl in Brooklyn, one thing she remembered was going door-to-door not at Halloween but rather around Thanksgiving. She didn’t call it clementing, but it sure sounds like it to me, especially when you realize that on some years, Thanksgiving and St. Clement’s Day would even fall on the same day.

One of the rhymes clementing kids may have sung in exchange for apples and pears was probably an old nursery rhyme that is still well known. Do you know it?

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

The bells in the song refer to the bells of churches in and around London. The ending is rather abrupt, isn’t it? But it’s part of a game that’s being played by the girls in the old engraving above. Two players form an arch with their arms, and at the end of the rhyme, things really speed up––both the song and the running through the arches. But finally the arches come down… and then that’s it for the kid who’s trapped in those arms: Off with her head! Or at least out of the game.

Image: “Oranges and Lemons” by Nicholl Bouvier Games. Engraving on paper, from the book The Pictorial World by Agnes Rose Bouvier, 1874. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons.

Who remembers Book of Love? Who remembers the 80s? Here’s Book of Love singing their song Oranges and Lemons in concert in 1989, and yes… they do mention the bells of St. Clement’s!