Happy Sant Jordi’s day! It’s the day of books, flowers and lovers in Barcelona, and since I work at one of the main avenues in the city I don’t think I’ll be able to cross the solid block of people browsing the outdoor bookshops & buying roses in order to get to the train.
We love Saint George in Catalunya so much that according to us, his story happened here. In the Montblanc mountains, if we’re going to be specific. Anyone who says otherwise is not to be trusted. Including the UNESCO, who kind of appropriated the whole thing back in 1995.
So a fearsome dragon came to live in the caves above the valley town of Montblanc, and the king decreed that it should be fed so that it didn’t raze the kingdom. For one year they fed it their livestock until there was no more, and then it was decided that it would be the maidens’ turn next. Proving that while he was indeed a raging mysoginist, he was no classist, the king entered the Princess’ name into the draw, and of course she was chosen first. Obvious public relations move by the frankly quite useless monarchy of Montblanc.
Off she went to be dragon chow, but then appeared a knight on a white horse who fought the dragon and slayed him with his spear. From the dragon’s blood that was spilled grew the first rosebush, and the knight, who was Sant Jordi/Saint George, though presumably just plain ol’ Georgie back then, plucked the first rose and gave it to the Princess as a sign of love. There’s the half-hearted version that says “and then he rode up to heaven and got a job there”, but the favoured one says he married the Princess and had a grand old time before becoming a saint.
This is the very first story any Catalan kid will ever be told. Before I knew anything about the Jesus business I knew about Sant Jordi and his smooth dragon-slaying moves of love. And we celebrate him every April 23rd: in Georgie’s honour, you must buy books and roses for your loved ones, since we’ve done away with the irritating old “girls buy guys books and guys buy girls roses, a rose for love and a book forever" thing. We ladies want our books and will shove roses up orifices if denied.
So on April 23rd there’s a country-wide book-and-rose fair: in every town and city libraries set street stalls and sell books, 10% off on Sant Jordi’s day by law, and flower vendors sell roses of every colour, generally tied with small Catalan flag ribbons. Schools often have a half-day so that students and teachers can go see the stalls and get themselves some books and roses. Not the one I attended, though. Crusty bastards that they were.
(pic sources: x x x x)