Category Archives: Book of Days Calendar

A Symphony of Bells, or Your September Book of Days

In the previous chapter of the Convivio Book of Days, the one about the Bartlemas Wayzgoose, I gave brief mention to the fact that the printers’ Wayzgoose festivities that come out of St. Bartholomew’s Day on the 24th of August are rooted in an acknowledgment of the waning days of summer giving way to fall. I know many of you were not keen on hearing that, and yet today we have a deeper acknowledgment of the turning of the wheel of the year, for it is now September, and once we get to these Ember Months, which is what I like to call these last few months of the year, since they all end with -ember, save for October (and even October ends in something much like -ember)… well, once we get to these Ember Months, there is no denying that summer’s days are few indeed and autumn will soon be made welcome: welcome or welcome not.

In the Swiss Alps, the cows who wear such distinctive sounding bells around their necks have been up in the mountain meadows all summer long, but come the Feast of the Nativity of Mary on the 8th of this month, they will begin their journey down to the valleys in a centuries-old cattle drive known as the Almabtrieb. The feast day, also called Our Lady of the Grape Harvest, for vintners are now beginning to harvest grapes and make wine, is also known as Drive Down Day, and the driving down is done with great ceremony as the cows are decorated with flowers and greenery and beautifully woven textiles and yes, there is a symphony of bells as they walk and lumber their way alongside their humans down the roads, down to their winter quarters in the farms and villages of the valleys.

Seth and I were in the Swiss Alps in 2019. Not for Drive Down Day––we were passing through in July, in the Alpine grass-grazing season of high summer, on our way from Austria to Lake Como in Italy. Seth was at the wheel and at one point he made a right turn off the main road and me, I thought we were stopping for ice cream, but no, he kept driving into the woods and suddenly we were ascending up and up and there we were, driving along a switchback two-lane road up into the mountains. We were on the Splügenpass. (That’s what it’s called on the German speaking side of Switzerland, and as you descend down toward the Italian speaking side, it’s called the Passo del Spluga.) I had no idea this would be happening, and instead of ice cream, I got to enjoy the most spectacular vistas. Every now and then, we had to pull over and stop and just take it all in. And what enchanted me most was the sound of bells. Each bell came from a single cow, grazing the green mountain meadow grass. A beautiful sound in complete harmony with the mountain we stood upon. I could listen to Swiss cows grazing all day long and never grow tired of it.

All this to say: Now it is September, and here is your Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month. It is, as usual, a printable PDF that you may print out and pin to your bulletin board or stick to your refrigerator or prop up on your desk, or just keep it handy digitally. It’s a fine companion to this blog and will give you more holidays than I will have time to write about… but even if I don’t write about them, you might find something about each of them if you do a search for each particular day on the blog page. Cover star this month: one of those lovely cows, dressed to the nines, at rest in a grassy field on Drive Down Day. Aside from Almabtrieb beginning on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, it’s also the month of several important holidays in the Jewish calendar, and of Johnny Appleseed’s birthday (his 249th!), as well as Letterpress Appreciation Day on 9/18 and, of course, the autumnal equinox here in the Northern Hemisphere. CLICK HERE for the calendar.

Thanks to all who came to shop at the Wayzgoose last Sunday at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts. Now, pop-up market season is beginning in earnest! Here are a few of the markets we plan to attend in the coming months:

OKTOBERFEST MIAMI at the German American Social Club west of Miami. Two weekends: Friday October 13 through Sunday October 15 and then again the following weekend: Friday October 20 through Sunday October 22.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS LAKE WORTH BEACH at our hometown community art center, Hatch 1121, just west of the tracks between Lucerne Avenue and Lake Avenue (just west of City Hall). Saturday October 28 from 3 to 9 PM.

FLORIDA DAY OF THE DEAD in Downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday November 4. The Convivio Bookworks tent is usually at the gathering point for the procession, which is Huzienga Plaza (or Bubier Park), 32 East Las Olas Boulevard. Details still to come, but we are usually there from about 3:00 until the procession leaves to cross the New River.

You may also expect to find us at the German American Social Club’s Christmas Market in Miami on Saturday December 2, the Sankta Lucia Julmarknad in Boca Raton also on Saturday December 2, and the American German Club in suburban Lake Worth for their Krampusnacht celebration on Friday night, December 8, followed by their Christkindlmarkt on Saturday & Sunday, December 9 & 10…. and perhaps more than this.


Image: A cow dressed up for Almabtrieb, photographed by Evelyscher, 2014. [Creative Commons] via Wikimedia Commons.


Two Moons, & Lammas

August this year brings two full moons: one tonight, this First of August, which is called the Sturgeon Moon, and the second, a Blue Moon, at the end of the month on the 30th. Both are super moons––full moons that coincide with perigee, which is when the Moon is in closest proximity to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Both full moons of August will appear larger than usual, because the Moon is indeed closer to us than it usually is. All of this Moon Magic inspired me to give you a moon-focused Convivio Book of Days calendar for the month of August. Cover star: “Summer Night Moon” by Eero Järnefelt. Click here for your free calendar: it is, as usual, a printable PDF, and a fine companion to this Book of Days.

This Sturgeon Moon happens to illuminate an ancient agrarian celebration called Lammas, which falls each First of August. It is one of the old cross quarter days that fall between the solstices and equinoxes, and with Lammas we come to the midpoint between the June solstice and the September equinox. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is high summer, but with Lammas comes the acknowledgment of a perspective shift and the understanding that summer’s growth is mostly done and the focus of the things of this world begins to shift now toward ripening, and harvest and gathering.

Indeed, Lammas is the celebration of the first grain harvest. Where Lammas is well celebrated and where it was more widely acknowledged in our agrarian past, this was a time to bake loaves of bread from the new grain. One loaf would be brought to church to be blessed, and some loaves would be shaped into ornamental loaves called corn dollies, “corn” being a general word describing grain (and not necessarily the cornmeal Americans might think of upon hearing the word). Translating these traditions to the contemporary world, it is a very good day, I think, to bake a crusty loaf, or to gather one from your local baker, and to savor each delectable crumb. You might take a wee dram, as well, of whisky: one of the other gifts of grain. The bread is acknowledged in the very name of Lammas, which descends from the Old English hlafmaesse, or “loaf mass.” John Barleycorn is a name you may hear this time of summer: he is the grain, personified. As the old song goes, John Barleycorn must die: Summer is waning, autumn is coming, and with Lammas, as summer’s hues begin to shift from green to golden, we begin to turn our thoughts toward gathering in. John Barleycorn brings a bit of melancholy but a bit of warmth as well––warmth in his crusty bread, warmth in his spirits, warmth in the ones we gather with to celebrate. Happy Lammastide.


At our online shop, enjoy $5 off your order of $35 or more when you use discount code HIGH5 at checkout. Take it to $75 and you’ll earn free domestic shipping, too. Use the deal on anything in the shop. Click here to shop! Years ago, when I was a printing intern at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, I wrote a short summery tale called Sturgeon Moon. It was August, and the well was running dry. Before I left the Shakers to go back to grad school, I printed the story from handset type in Brother Arnold’s printshop and made it into a miniature book that is illustrated with a pop-up sheep flying over a barn. You can even use the HIGH5 discount code for $5 off the book!

Top Image: “Summer Night Moon” by Eero Järenefelt. Oil on canvas, 1889. Kansallisgalleria (Finnish National Gallery). [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons. Bottom image: My mom, Millie, in a fishing boat on a lake in Brooklyn, circa 1950.


To the Sea, or Your July Book of Days

I made the realization this past week that once Midsummer is past, I am pretty much done with summer. I live near the 26th parallel north, and this may have something to do with it. It gets hot here in summer. I also just discovered that the 26th parallel north is the most populous circle of latitude on Earth. Not only does it cross Florida and Mexico, it also crosses Southern China and the Indian subcontinent and straight though Northern Africa, too. All very warm places. And I can imagine most everyone along this parallel thinking, once Midsummer passes, in their own native language, the very same thing I am thinking, which is this: Summer is just now digging in its heels. We still have three months of this to go.

Why do so many of us live in such warm places? I don’t understand it, until it’s January and my teeth are chattering when the temperature dips into the 40s. In July, though, it is easy to despair here over the heat and the humidity. In fact, the Dog Days of Summer just begin now, on the Third of July, as Sirius, the Dog Star, begins its annual rising with the sun each morning. Our ancestors believed the two stars rising together intensified the heat, and though that’s not exactly how it works, it sure feels right. These Dog Days will continue through the 11th of August, at which point Sirius and the sun separate again until next year.

The good news for us here in Lake Worth is that the Atlantic Ocean is just a quick trip across the lagoon, and a day at the seaside is a welcome one when it is this hot. That is the theme of your Convivio Book of Days Calendar for July, featuring a seaside painting by American painter Walt Kuhn. The calendar is, as usual, a printable PDF and a fine companion to this blog. Click here to get yours.

The theme is fitting considering July brings the celebration of Neptunalia & Salacia on the 23rd. This festival of Ancient Rome honored Neptune, the sea god, and his wife Salacia, goddess of the salty sea. July also brings a string of national celebrations: Canada Day on the First, Independence Day here in the States on the Fourth, and Bastille Day in France on the 14th. There are many saints’ days to mark; the most famous of them perhaps being the old weather maker of St. Swithin’s Day on the 15th. It is the month, too, of Tanabata, the lovely Star Festival of Japan, when wishes are written on paper and tied to the trees.

Come month’s end it will be Lammas Eve, and Lammas, the First Harvest festival on the First of August, brings our annual acknowledgment that summer is ripening and autumn is not far behind. Unless you happen to live along the 26th parallel. If you do, summer is that house guest that’s not going anywhere for a long long time. You may as well get used to its presence.


Here’s a “lighter fare” sale for summer: Enjoy a quick & easy $5 off your purchase of $35 on everything in the store with discount code HIGH5 at checkout. Plus domestic orders of $75 or more ship free! CLICK HERE to shop (and to see a photo of my mom, circa 1950, fishing pole in hand, wearing cool shades and plaid in a row boat).


Image: “Bathers on a Beach” by Walt Kuhn. Oil on canvas, 1915. Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.