Category Archives: Solstice

Glad Midsommar & a Grand Opening

So, here we are at the June solstice. The first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and yet, by traditional reckoning of time, a time our ancestors called Midsummer. There is a certain loveliness to the logic in this viewpoint and this nomenclature, for daylight has been increasing on a daily basis since the December solstice, and now, as we reach Midsummer, the pendulum swings back again toward the other direction, and with this passing day, light will begin to decrease. And just as the days that follow the December solstice bring celebratory, magical days, so do the days that follow the June solstice––they’re just not widely honored here in the States, much to our loss. But just as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day follow the Midwinter solstice, so do St. John’s Eve and St. John’s Day follow the Midsummer solstice. Opposite spokes of the Wheel of the Year, designed intentionally to correspond with the Constant Rearrange that comes about naturally through the choreography between the sun and a planet Earth that is tilted 23.5 degrees.

This time around, the more-or-less precise solstice moment here in Lake Worth, which is in US Eastern Daylight Time, is  today, Thursday, June 20, at 4:50 PM. And me, I can only apologize for writing so infrequently lately, but all our energies have been focused on getting our new Convivio Bookworks shop. Friday is the grand opening! The Mayor (with her very large scissors, for cutting the ceremonial ribbon) and the Vice-Mayor and several City Commissioners have promised to be here. And since it’s Midsummer, we’ll have a letterpress Glad Midsommar card you can print yourself, and we’ll also teach you how to make a floral crown, and there will be a tasting event featuring many of our Scandinavian specialty foods and beverages. And, of course, great shopping, good music, nice people… I honestly can’t think of anything not to like. And we’ll help you celebrate a proper Midsummer, too.

After the Grand Opening, our plan is for open hours every Saturday from 11 AM to 4 PM. You may also contact us to shop or visit the place by appointment: We’re happy to do so!

It’s a Midsummer celebration! Official ribbon cutting with City officials on Friday June 21 at 3:30 PM, and we’ll be open all that weekend (Friday June 21 from 3 to 8 PM, Saturday June 22 from 11 AM to 7 PM, and Sunday June 23 from 10 AM to 4 PM) with lots of Midsummer fun. The new shop is at 1110 North G Street, Suite D, Lake Worth Beach, FL 33460. From I-95, exit 10th Avenue North eastbound; make a left at the first traffic signal onto North A Street, then at the first stop sign, turn right onto 13th Avenue North. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right again onto North G Street. We’re a couple blocks down on your left side in a blue-roofed building. Plenty of street parking on G Street and there are a few spots in our little parking lot, too.

SHOP OUR SUMMER SALE… both online and in-store!
At our online catalog right now, you may use discount code BLOSSOM to save $10 on your $85 purchase, plus get free domestic shipping, too. That’s a total savings of $19.50. Spend less than $85 and our flat rate shipping fee of $9.50 applies. CLICK HERE to shop; you know we appreciate your support immensely. And yes, you may use that $10 discount when you visit us in the store, too!


Snow on Snow on Snow

If you read as many 19th and early 20th Century books as I do, you may come to the same conclusion as I have about the weather: Christmas was definitely colder and snowier back then. Washington Irving’s traveler in the Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts that visit him in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Dick Dewey and the full cast of characters of Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree, Dylan Thomas’ child in A Child’s Christmas in Wales: all of these characters experience frosty, snow blown Christmases, the likes of which we rarely see these days, or so it seems to me. But what do I know? I live in Florida. It was 1977 when it last snowed here in Lake Worth. Our niece, who lives nearby, is bound for Maine to spend Christmas with her grandparents and she was hoping for snow, but instead the forecast there is calling for unseasonably warm temperatures. Where’s the fun in that, especially when it is Christmas?

Even here in this strange green land, cold is part of what we long for in Christmas, part of what makes Christmas, well, Christmas. We celebrate Christ’s Mass––Christmas––around the time of the Northern Hemisphere’s Midwinter solstice, but, in fact, we don’t really know when Jesus was born. It was the early Church, working within the confines of the Wheel of the Year, that placed his holy birth at the Midwinter Solstice. To the Midsummer Solstice, the Church assigned the birth of his cousin, St. John the Baptist. And so John is born at the brightest time of the year, just a few days past June’s solstice, the time of our longest days. But with Midsummer’s passing, the days already begin to grow shorter, and John himself tells us this: “I must decrease so he may increase.” John prepares the way for Jesus, the Light of the World. Which is why we celebrate the birth of Christ now, at the opposite pole of the year, the time of our darkest, longest nights, just as daily sunlight is at its minimum and is again about to increase. It is the old, old story, a rich and beautiful metaphor, attached to the even older story of the rhythm of our planet as it circles around the sun each year, tilted as it is on its axis, the tilt creating the seasons that are the basis of all our celebrations in the Wheel of the Year. Each day different from the one before and the one after: the constant rearrange that takes us from winter to spring to summer to fall and to winter again. It is the story we all know. And here we go again: In this bleak midwinter, light is born, the child is born, and now light again begins to increase. By Candlemas on the Second of February, when the Christmas season officially ends and when St. Brigid invites us to take our first steps upon her bridge to springtime, we will already be halfway between the Midwinter solstice and the Vernal equinox. There is nothing random about the days we celebrate. There is purpose and meaning behind them, as we tell the story over and over again: this story that never grows old. It is always fascinating. Always amazing.

As precision goes, the solstice moment this time around (more or less, for there are variations east and west within time zones), is 10:27 PM here in US Eastern Standard Time. That is the moment when the sun’s rays strike their southernmost point at the Tropic of Capricorn, south of the Equator, and in the Southern Hemisphere, today brings the Midsummer solstice and the longest day. Polar opposites: their longest day, our longest night.

Here at our home in Lake Worth, we’ll mark this longest night by lighting a fire in the backyard copper fire bowl. Our Midwinter fire will be fueled by the remnants of last year’s Christmas tree, which has been drying in a quiet corner of the yard since we brought it out there last February at Candlemas. A quiet ceremony on a chilly night in which the embers in our fire glow and shimmer and share the same winter sky as the stars that twinkle above.


You’ll find savings right now on European Christmas cookies and candies (and more) in the Specialty Foods section of our online shop (CLICK HERE to SHOP). The markdowns are automatic, and you can also take an additional $10 off your order of $85 when you use discount code SLOWCHRISTMAS at check out, and we’ll pay your domestic shipping at that level, too. (Our flat rate shipping fee is $9.50 for all domestic orders below $85.) While your order won’t be delivered by Christmas Day at this point, you’ll certainly have your order in time to enjoy for the Twelve Days of Christmas, though, which begin only once Christmas Day itself has passed. Aside from the cookies and chocolates in our shop, there are some important pantry items to have on hand to make your Twelve Days as wonderful as possible: I’d suggest stocking up on chestnuts at your local Italian market to enjoy throughout the Christmas season, and from us, may I suggest Shaker Mulling Spices so you can make mulled wine and Shaker Rose Water so you can make baklava and our Three Kings Cake come Epiphany.


Image: Bernstorffsvejen ved Rygaard, Rimfuld Vintermorgen (The Road Bernstorffsvej at Rygaard on a Frosty Winter Morning) by Christian Zacho. Oil on canvas, 1905 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons].


Midsummer Solstice

June 21 this year brings the June Solstice: Midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, Midwinter in the Southern. As precision goes, the solstice moment this time around, more or less (for there are variations east and west within time zones), is 10:57 AM here in US Eastern Daylight Time. That is the moment when the sun’s rays strike the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5° north of the Equator. It is our longest day in the Northern Hemisphere. And for a lovely explanation of why (by way of a fresh lemon representing Earth), I invite you to watch a short video by one of the people on this planet that I really admire: Lia Leendertz, author of The Almanac, which you might think of as a Book of Days with a British focus, explains the celestial mechanics while offering some thoughts on Midsummer in a charming video she released just yesterday.

This 23.5° tilt of the Earth brings us our seasons, and today, we reach the extreme that brings the most sunlight to the Northern Hemisphere. It is the start of summer by the almanac, but our ancestors saw this as the height of summer, hence its older monicker: Midsummer. And just as the Midwinter solstice in December is soon followed by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so too is the Midsummer solstice soon followed by St. John’s Eve and St. John’s Day. St. John’s Eve will come on Friday, the evening of the 23rd, and St. John’s Day on the 24th. This St. John is John the Baptist: the cousin of Jesus, he who was sent to prepare his way. All those feast days of saints that we celebrate throughout the year… like when we eat zeppole on St. Joseph’s Day, or minne de virgine on St. Agatha’s Day, or soda bread on St. Patrick’s Day: all these feasts commemorate the day each of these people left this earthly life. There are only three birthdays the Church celebrates each year: Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist. It’s the two cousins that are the more fascinating here, because the Church placed their birthdates at the solstices. No one knows for sure when they were actually born, but they are placed in this particular order in the round of the year for metaphoric reasons: St. John is born at the brightest time of the year, the time of our longest days. But what happens immediately after the Midsummer solstice? Sunlight begins to decrease a little bit each day. It is the Constant Rearrange: no day exactly like the one that came before or the one that follows. John himself tells us something to the effect of, “I must decrease so he may increase.” John prepares the way for Jesus, the Light of the World. And Jesus is born then, at the opposite pole of the year, the time of our darkest days, our longest nights, just as sunlight is again increasing.

That is one version, anyway. It is the old old story and a fascinating one: the story of our planet and its place in the universe and it is our story, too, no matter which players you place in the roles. The planet continues its journey around the sun at its 23.5° tilt and with it comes summer and fall and winter and spring and therein, in this simplicity, lies the mystery. The mystery of our unfolding days and the spiraling circular nature of our existence.


Join me on Friday, June 23, in the afternoon hours before St. John’s Eve begins, for the Real Mail Fridays Midsummer Social on Zoom. This online social runs from 2 to 5 Eastern, and you may come and go as you please for time to get things done (letter writing or otherwise) in the company of friends from around the globe. We will feature music by Felix Mendelssohn and readings from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, mixed in with some other music fitting for the height of summer, and once an hour we’ll take a little break for some casual banter. We welcome you to join us from wherever you are by clicking here. Real Mail Fridays is always a very heartwarming time and this week it’s a midsummery time, too.

Saturday evening, St. John’s Night, Seth & I are thinking about going to the Midsummer Fest––the Juhannusjuhla––outdoors at Finnish-American Village, weather permitting. There’ll be a traditional midsummer bonfire! Entry is $5. Finnish American Village is at 1800 South Drive here in Lake Worth, Florida. The festivities begin at 6 PM, but if we go, we’ll be going later, as I am teaching a workshop that day at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts called Book Arts 101: Midsummer Night’s Dream and then we’ll be having a traditional Swedish Midsommar feast, of the carry-out sort, from our friends at Johan’s Jöe in West Palm Beach. They are accepting Midsommar catering orders through Thursday. Everything at Johan’s is always delicious! Here’s a link to order your own Midsommar feast from Johan’s. Highly recommended!

Also online, I invite you to watch the episode of Stay Awake Bedtime Stories that I recorded last year for Midsummer: It’s my own retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an adaptation of the 1899 story version by Edith Nesbit. It’s a fun time. And in the video, I’m wearing an awesome floral crown that Seth made for me. Click here to watch.


At our online catalog, use discount code BLOSSOM to take $10 off your order of $85 or more, plus get free domestic shipping. Good on everything in the shop! Click here to shop! Happy Midsummer to you all. Glad Midsommar. Hyvää Juhannusta.


Image: “Summer Night (Sommernatt)” by Harald Sohlberg. Oil on canvas, 1899. National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.