Tuesday, April 23, 2019
First of all – Happy Birthday Camiga, Laura Peña!!! I miss you tons already!
I have been fortunate countless times now to be in the countries I have visited on holidays! Today I bussed to the Santiago de Compostela airport with Laura, flew to Barcelona, and then bussed to Plaça de Catalunya, a short walk to my hotel. As we got closer to my destination, our progress became slower and slower and it became Very Clear that SOMETHING was going on!! Police were everywhere, I was overwhelmed by the masses of people and saw balloons and endless covered stalls!
Finally getting off the bus, in addition to the thousands of people I saw, I beheld roses everywhere – and book stands!! Signs indicated it was Sant Jordi Day. It seemed everyone was carrying a rose (or two or more), and pouring over book titles amidst the eclectic activity and energy that took over the streets. In fact, some of the main thoroughfares were closed to vehicle traffic.
It took me awhile to get to my hotel because it was so crowded! Yet it was so fun to be a part of the palpable mood. I received a rose at check-in, deposited my backpack and went out to enjoy the sunshine and people! Such A delightful afternoon, albeit taxing to be shoulder to shoulder with so many celebrants!!
Upon further research I find that “Sant Jordi”, or “Saint George’s Day” is the Catalan equivalent to Valentine’s Day. Each year on April 23rd “the streets are filled with people strolling around grasping books and roses wrapped in ribbons in the colors of the Catalan flag (The Senyera)” from barcelona-tourist-guide.com
Apparently the underlying story is known worldwide, featuring Saint George as a hero who saved a beautiful Princess from a dragon who had been terrorizing her village. There are various versions of the story but these facts always remain the same.
Sant Jordi is the Patron Saint of Catalunya and his tale is well-known throughout the city.
“The basic idea for Sant Jordi is that men give women roses and women give men books. And it can be anybody, not necessarily your partner or somebody who you have taken a liking to. For this feast, boys buy roses for their mums; girls buy books for their friends. Also, in today’s forward thinking society the rules are no longer set regarding who gets what. A girl is just as likely to receive a book and vice versa.” (barcelona-tourist-guide.com)
I bought a book in English (Graham Greene, “Twenty-one Stories”), the warm sunshine felt wonderful, it was a joy to be caught up in the excitement, and it’s no lie – strolling with no destination in mind was uplifting!! My feet still hurt…