Red Letter Days

One of the things that I am enjoying about blogging is sharing books with you that we have used and loved.  I like to think that you are sitting here with me in my home with a latte made from fresh roasted beans  by either Marit, Porfiry or Tree.  I don't make the coffee, I just drink it and praise the makers! That's Tree's handiwork in the photo. And yes, latte art is considered a handicraft in our school.

 So, what did you do in your house for Saint Stephen's Day?  How about Armistice Day? The First Day of Winter?  Book Week?  If these events as well as the more well-known holidays sometimes slip by without a mention, do I have a book recommendation for you!  It's called Poems for Red Letter Days, our go-to book of poems to help make those lesser holidays as well as the important holidays at least a teeny bit special.

The etymology of the phrase "red letter days" stems from the ancient church custom of marking festivals and saints' days in red on the calendar.  Today it means any special day. In this delightful compilation, Elizabeth Hough Sechrist  has collected 275 poems by classic and contemporary (and I use that term loosely as the copyright is 1951) poets.  All the standards are in here, from Wordsworth to Whitman and so many more. Plus she includes poems for each month and season as well as the lyrics to all the state songs (!) and poems for events like birthdays and commencements.  Maybe you don't need another poetry anthology.  I happen to think you can never have too many...

I'll leave you with a poem for Washington's Birthday (February 22nd).

Grace to Boot,


The Cincinnatus of the West

Where may the wearied eye repose
  When gazing on the Great
Where neither guilty glory glows,
Nor despicable state?
        Yes--one--the first--the last--the best
The Cincinnatus of the West
Whom envy dared not hate,
       Bequeathed the name of Washington,
          To make man blush there was but one.

                                             -Lord Byron


  1. Oh, that looks so yummy! And almost too pretty to drink! From your description, I can smell the aroma too! I am going to refill my coffee.. I have some ready- whip..
    The book looks great too!

  2. Thanks. I never knew the origin of the phrase red letter days but now you've explained it, its obvious isnt it. In fact I think some modern calendars still have red letter days but probably for bank holidays and/or Sundays.

  3. Hey, great ideas.
    By the way, when and where is the next retreat? Do you do all the same talks as are listed on your webpage?

  4. Pam,
    No, I might do one keynote and a few breakouts, but Dr. Jack Beckman is our keynote. I will be posting all the details here in a month or so. I know you would love it! Watch the Facebook group, Living Education Retreat, for more announcements. It will be July 30 and 31st this year.

  5. Just wondering how useful that poetry book would be for someone not living in the US?

  6. Aliadelaide,
    Good question! I'm new at this blogging world and have come to realize that many of my readers are not from the U.S. - so please forgive me for not mentioning some details.

    If you are an American living abroad, then you would find it very useful. This book is especially heavy with historical poetry.
    If not, I would think that unless you love all things American, you wouldn't find it nearly as useful. Most of the holidays highlighted are unique to America.

    Does that answer your question?