When you live in Barcelona, you realise that they’ve so many festivities and festivals based on common traditions passed through from generation to generation.
A festival is, by definition, a party that lives in the street. Such as the one happening on April 23rd, the day that thousands and thousands of people go for a walk to enjoy one of the most intense, special and beautiful day of the year. Seems a little like a cooler version of S. Valentine, during which all the boys give as a gift a rose to their partner or any woman they care about, and viceversa the girls give the boys a book.
The Rose responds to the outcome of the legend (which I am talking about later) and come in all colors, symbolizing various moods and feelings towards people. The red is a sign of love and affection, and is the rose more gifted this day.
Sant Jordi is the feast of gestures. Gestures in the form of books and roses for the people who most want.
I found this tradition so lovely and amazing, because it’s not about giving expensive presents, but it’s just about an act of caring and kindess. Also it increases the amount of books read by the people, which in my country for example isn’t that much.
Sant Jordi is culture, flowers, love and citizen participation.
The cool thing about this day is that you don’t have to go to the bookstore for books. Everywhere, in every corner, on any street, thousands of books occupy streets and squares. The main artery of the festival is La Rambla, filled with stands and authors signing their latest works, but each neighborhood bookstores also go out to offer the best literary flood Barcelona.
Meanwhile, florists draw Barcelona with all the colors of spring and love roses are given as a gesture of love. Bakers make knights and dragons and bakers chocolate, delicious breads with cheese and spicy sausage with the colors of the flag.
Each makes his gesture, so why don’t you make yours? 🙂
Since 1996, UNESCO has declared that this tradition has become global and the 23rd of April has become World Book Day, being the day Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died.
The St George’s Day commemorates the death of the saint on the 23rd April. It is considered the patron of countries like Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Georgia, England or Portugal.
The story tells that in Cappadocia there was a dragon attacking the kingdom. Scared to death, the inhabitants decided to give each day two lambs the dragon to satisfy its hunger and not to attack the village. But when the animals became scarce it was decided to send a person and a lamb, who were both devoured.
One day a Princess was chosen to accompany the lamb. On the way to the cave of the dragon, the princess met the gentleman Jorge, who killed the dragon by stabbing it with his sword and rescued the lady. From the blood that flowed from the lifeless body of the monster was born a red rose that the gentleman gave the princess.
A church built in his name, which flowed a wonderful water that was able to ‘heal’ the sick.
Today, the red rose (symbolizing passion) is often accompanied by the landmark and an ear of corn (symbol of fertility). It is a gift between couples, but is also carried out among all the loved ones (family, friends, colleagues).
Barcelona also organizes this amazing campaign in which, in this day, you can donate blood in any of the biggest libraries in exchange of a free book, or in Placa Catalunya in exchange of a rose.
This is such a useful and sensitive thing to carry on, and I’m proud to be an active participant in this event.
*Despite its wide celebration throughout the entire Catalan territory, it is a working day (unless it falls on a Sunday).