Tomorrow, 23rd of April is the longly awaited day of Book and Rose, St. George’s Day (Dia de Sant Jordi). Although the streets of Barcelona are used to bring joy to visitors, during Sant Jordi feast all the elements that form the city come together magically. It is my favourite day. (It is not only because I like receiving a nice book as a present!)
Every single corner of Barcelona is converted into small and attractive market-places where books and roses are the only merchandise that worth considering. People converge in front of those spontaneous and colourful florists, book stores and hoping to find “that” rose or book to present to their beloveds. (Woman receive a nice red rose while they present a book ..) What a nice occasion to show love and affection : exchanging words and flowers.
It is also a good moment for publishers and writers that hope to present their recent works and promote the older ones. We should not forget the florists neither. Nearly 4 million roses and 400,000 books are in question.
Besides, lots of other activities like expositions, conferences are organised in order to feed the book worms and “serious” intellectuals who are not satisfied with what is going on and might say that this is a marketing trick.
As 2005 is celebrated as the year of reading and books in Barcelona, those activities are held all along the year and not concentrated. 400th anniversary of the first publication of Don Quijote de la Mancha of Miguel de Cervantes is one of the main leitmotifs.
When we learn a bit more on what Book and Rose day is all about, the tribute to Cervantes would make more sense:
It is named after St. George who is the patron of Barcelona. According to the legend, St.George bravely saves a young and beautiful lady who was about to be gulped by a huge and terrible dragon! Where dragon died bleeding, suddenly appears a bush of rose. St.George who is a real “caballero” picks a rose and presents it to the young and beautiful lady… This legend seem to justify half of the story and until 1920s it was celebrated as the feast of the city and the Rose day.
The second part of the story is about some other caballeros who were using words instead of swords: two genious, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes happen to die the same day: April 23, 1616. This motivated some to conmemorate their death in combination with the Sant Jordi day and it leaded until UNESCO adopted 23rd of April as World Book and Copyright Day in 1990s.
So… briefly, it is a perfect day to be in Barcelona. It is just like being in Paris any 21st of June when there is “la fête de la musique” that converts the city into a huge music box!
and here another link of interest :
Bookcrossing in Barcelona