Category Archives: Autumn

San Martino, or Your Convivio Book of Days for November

I told you at the start of November that this month’s Book of Days Calendar would be delayed, but I bet you didn’t think it would be this late! Anyway, here it is: a gift to you this St. Martin’s Night (or, should you see this on the 12th, a belated St. Martin’s Day gift). Cover star for this month’s calendar: Corn Shocks and Pumpkins, an 1864 oil painting by English artist William Trost Richards. We don’t see fields like this here in Lake Worth, but we do get those skies if we venture west at sunset to where the trees give way to endless sugar fields. The calendar is a printable PDF that is a nice companion to this blog, even if I don’t have as much time to write as I used to. Let the calendar be your reminder that you are never far from my heart. Here is a link to your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for November.

Here’s another gift to you, whether you receive it in time for Martinmas Night tonight or not: it is, I think, a fine gift no matter when you get it. It’s me reading a spooky story for St. Martin’s Night for the online story series Stay Awake: Bedtime Stories for Kids & Sleepy Adults. I’ve read an old Tirolean folktale called “Spooks A-Hunting” for the program. The story is collected and illustrated by Diane Goode and is from her 1994 Dutton Children’s Books edition of Diane Goode’s Book of Scary Stories & Songs. Worry not: The scare factor is minimal, and this story is suitable for all ages. Here is a link to the Stay Awake series at the website of the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. You’ll find my Martinmas tale there, as well as all the previous episodes of Stay Awake by me and other folks, too, like Kianga Jinaki reading the African folktale “The Greedy Hyena,” British artist Davy McGuire reading “That Pesky Rat,” and master storyteller Jonathan Kruk telling the tale of “The Misadventures of Ichabod Crane” (as well as a couple of other stories that I’ve read along the way for the project).

Martinmas brings the time of year when we taste the new wine (which is why the Beaujolais Nouveau wines are released about now) and it is the conclusion of our annual days of remembrance that began with Hallowe’en and the Days of the Dead: All Saints Day, All Souls Day. And now, Thanksgiving is on the horizon here in the States. The days prior to Thanksgiving will bring Stir-Up Sunday, the day traditionally reserved for the making of Christmas puddings and fruitcakes that need weeks to age to develop their flavors, and St. Cecilia’s Day, patron saint of musicians, and St. Clement’s Day, patron saint of blacksmiths and metal workers. After Thanksgiving, the First Sunday of Advent will arrive, and there we’ll be: on the road toward Christmas. Unbelievable as that may seem, so it is.

The current sale at our website: Use discount code JOYFUL for $10 off your purchase of $85 or more, plus free domestic shipping. Click here to shop! And if you think it would be difficult to spend $85 at our website, you’ve probably not visited in a long time. We’ve added lots of great new items, and we are adding even more new items weekly! Highlights right now: Advent calendars from Germany, Advent candles from Sweden and the UK, Christmas nutcrackers, pyramids, smokers, and ornaments from Germany, and candies and confections from Germany, too.

Quite a few Convivio Bookworks pop-up shops over the next few weeks; here’s a list of what’s planned. (There may very well be others; we’re still working out the details on a potential date or two in late November.)

Saturday November 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM. We love this event hosted each year by SWEA, the Swedish Women’s Educational Association, at First United Methodist Church, 625 NE Mizner Boulevard, Boca Raton 33432. Admission $5 (children under 12 free), payable at the door (no tickets required). Click here for full details (in Swedish… if you’d like some information in English, ask below in the comments).

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 in Suburban 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 in Suburban 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.


That’s all for now. No wonder your November Book of Days Calendar is so late! If you’re local, I do hope we’ll see you at one of these fun events. And if you’re from away, get those Advent orders in now so you have your calendars and candles in time for the First of December, which is when our calendars and candles all begin. May you love the anticipation of Christmas as much as Christmas itself, and in so doing, may you enjoy these autumn days fully for what they are. All things in their time. There is plenty of time for Christmas once it arrives.

Image: “Corn Shocks and Pumpkins” by William Trost Richards. Oil on canvas, 1864 [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons].



Autumn Leaves, or Your October Book of Days

October: Such a beautiful month! And here is your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for the month, hopefully almost as beautiful. Cover star: autumn foliage, which is a scene we don’t see much of here in Lake Worth. The occasional Florida Almond tree will turn suddenly red, perhaps, but this is a few-and-far-between experience. On the heels of Hurricane Ian, the weather here is cool and dry. Ian, in his way, sucked summer away. A rather violent end, but that’s how this land is sometimes. We build seawalls and we pave over the green and we erect concrete structures, but Nature has a way of reminding us who is ultimately in charge. I imagine sometimes all that we build left unattended for a spell and wonder how long it would take for everything to be covered in vines, how long it would take for everything to be reclaimed. Ours is a strange green land that never rests; the vegetation just grows and grows, plants sprouting leaf and tendril without end, day in, day out. So much different than northern climes, where autumn brings winter, and pause and rest.

The apples and pumpkins are shipped to us, and we are grateful to you for this. We’d be lost without you, devoid of all things iconically autumn. We do have the Seminole Pumpkin here, and the Calabaza, but when I sent pictures of these varieties several years ago to a pumpkin-growing friend in Maine –– one who grows old autumnal standards with rich pedigrees like the deep red Rouge vif d’Etampes pumpkin and the blue green Jahhradale pumpkin –– well, she made it clear she was not impressed. The Seminole and the Calabaza are good eating, but they are not the prettiest pumpkins in the patch. We thank you, then, for all the beautiful pumpkins you send to our markets, and for all the crisp, tart apples.

This autumnal month begins in an angelic way with the Feast of the Guardian Angels on the Second of October. It is an old, old celebration, dating back the Fourth Century, when folks began setting up altars in their homes honoring their angelic protectors. It is one of the oldest feasts of the Church, and one of the most personal. It is said that each of us has an angelic protector, and that we rarely know all they do for us. Me, I do my best to remember that maybe that driver who pulls into the road in front of me and slows me down is perhaps saving me from some terrible accident that may have happened further up the road had I not been hindered. Maybe that driver is my guardian angel. Maybe his name is Pablo and maybe he didn’t really deserve all the expletives I was hurling his way. Maybe I need to appreciate moments like this more than I do. The Feast of the Guardian Angels is perhaps the logical conclusion to the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel that we celebrated on the 29th of September: an angelic time of year. Also this month: Yom Kippur and Sukkot in the Jewish calendar, and in the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain calendar, Diwali: the Festival of Lights. Hallowe’en, at the close of this month, welcomes us to the time each year when we remember our beloved dead, keeping them close at heart. This union is part of what makes October such a beautiful month.

Our pop-up market season begins next weekend! Our first big event is OKTOBERFEST at the American German Club, 5111 Lantana Road, Lake Worth FL 33463. Two consecutive weekends: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday October 7 through 9, then again the following Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, October 14 through 16. Convivio Bookworks will be there in our big new 10′ x 20′ tent, and right next door in a normal size tent, you’ll find my mom and sister, selling Mom’s hand-embroidered Millie’s Tea Towels. You need to purchase tickets in advance for Oktoberfest; it’s rare that tickets are still available at the gate. Click here for tickets and more information. It’s a wonderful event, and we plan to have our full line of handcrafted artisan goods from Germany there, for all the seasons of the year: not just fall, but spring and Christmas, too.

For the next week or so at our online store we’re offering $10 off your purchase of $85 or more, plus get free domestic shipping. Just use discount code AUTUMN22 at checkout. We’re adding new items this time of year almost daily! You’ll find new items from Germany for Hallowe’en and Christmas, plus new Advent calendars and candles are coming this week, and we’re getting ready for Dia de Los Muertos, too. Lots to see! CLICK HERE to shop!


Sweetness & Radiance

September comes to a close this week and as it does, we get to celebrate with subtle sweetness. We begin with the setting sun this 25th of September and the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Apples and honey are traditional to Rosh Hashanah: eat these sweet things to help ensure a sweet year ahead. You might also eat challah bread and Teiglach: small balls of dough that are baked in honey and mixed with chopped roasted almonds and candied cherries. My family discovered them one September in a local Jewish bakery. We were mesmerized by the tin plates of Teiglach, piled high into a cone, wrapped in cellophane. They reminded us so much of the struffoli we make each Christmas. We bought a plateful and took it home and the teiglach was so good, we went back the next day for another. Something about the nuts and the cherries and the honey make for a sublime combination of sweetness and substance and texture. Eventually, we began making our own, and my sister’s Teiglach are what you see in the photo above. They are so good! L’shanah Tovah is the greeting we say: Have a good, sweet year.

The next day, on the 26th of September, we celebrate the birthday of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed: our great American apple-planting frontier traveler. He was born at the height of apple season in 1774. Read his story, watch the short animated Disney Melody Time film about him. At the very least, eat an apple. Better yet: drink a tankard of hard cider. John Chapman was not so much interested in planting apples for eating as he was in planting apples for cider making. Back then, cider, thanks to its alcohol content, was a lot safer to drink than water!

We close the month on the 29th with Michaelmas, honoring Michael the Archangel. Blackberries are traditional to Michaelmas, thanks to the story of Michael battling Satan, the fallen angel. As the story goes, when Satan fell to Earth, he landed in a bramble patch––a blackberry patch. I love blackberries, but I can tell you––from well remembered experience harvesting blackberries in Maine––that they are a fruit that will make you curse and swear as you gather them. So many thorns. They lay claim to your clothes and wound you. Satan cursed the bramble patch he landed upon, and legend has it that he returns each year to curse and spit upon that same patch. Some folks will not eat blackberries after Michaelmas for this very reason.

Roast goose for dinner is traditional for Michaelmas, and it is one of the first traditional nut-roasting nights of autumn. In Scotland, there are Struan Micheil, Michaelmas bannocks, somewhat like a scone but a flatbread, basically, cut into wedges, typically made from equal amounts of oats, barley, and rye, traditionally made without the use of metal: wooden fork, wooden or ceramic bowl, baking stone. And served, of course, with blackberries or blackberry jam.

The day belongs to St. Michael the Archangel, but traditions have arisen in various parts of the world that honor other angels this day, too. Some will honor Gabriel and Raphael along with Michael. Others will include Uriel, Raguel, Ramiel, and Sariel. This is something I’ve written about in the past about Michaelmas, but will say it again, for I love speaking this litany of angelic names each autumn, and the further down the roster we go, the more mysterious the names become as we cross a fascinating linguistic bridge to ancient tongues. The “-el” suffix of these angelic names is Sumerian in origin, signifying “brightness” or “shining,” names that in their true form would be Micha-el, Gabri-el, Rapha-el, Uri-el, Ragu-el, Rami-el, Sari-el. The list continues: Camael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel; Anael, Simiel, and Oriphiel; Metatron, Israfil, and Malak al-Maut. Their etymology connects to the Akkadian ilu (radiant one), the Babylonian ell (shining one), the Old Welsch ellu (shining being), Old Irish aillil (shining), Anglo-Saxon aelf (radiant being), and English elf (shining being). Speak these names aloud; immediately we are transported to an ancient time, a time when angels were perhaps more commonly seen, in all their radiance.

Are they still around? Many folks think so, and I am not one to doubt them. In a few days time, on the 2nd of October, we’ll celebrate another angelic day, one even older than Michaelmas and one much more personal: the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Its roots are in the Fourth Century, when believers began setting up altars in their homes each October in honor of their angelic protectors. How auspicious that we get to walk amongst angels this time each year.

We begin popping up a lot throughout South Florida these last few months of the year. Here’s where you’ll find us in October:

Friday, Saturday, & Sunday October 7, 8, & 9, and again Friday, Saturday, & Sunday October 14, 15, & 16. Tickets are required and must be purchased ahead of time (and they usually sell out). Click here for tickets.
American German Club
5111 Lantana Road, Lake Worth, FL 33463
We’ll be there both weekends with our big 10′ x 20′ tent filled with German Advent Calendars and handmade artisan goods from Germany for seasons throughout the year, and right next door to us you’ll find my mom and sister in their own tent selling Mom’s embroidery work: Millie’s Tea Towels.

November dates include Dia de Los Muertos in Lake Worth and Florida Day of the Dead in Fort Lauderdale (both on Saturday November 5, sorry!), the Swedish Julmarknad (Christmas Market) in Boca Raton on November 19, Krampusnacht on December 9 at the American German Club in Lake Worth, and Krampusnacht leads us into the American German Club’s Christkindlmarkt on December 10 and 11. I’ll keep you posted of each right here at the blog, or check the events listing at our Facebook page: @conviviobookworks.