Besides being perhaps the foremost writers in their respective languages, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, have something else in common: they both died on April 23, 1616. That’s as good a reason as any to celebrate National Book Day in Spain! Booksellers move their wares out into streets and avenues crowded with people looking for copies of current bestsellers, timeless classics, children’s books and comics.
April 23rd is also St. George’s Day, or SantJordi, in Catalán. George or Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia and England, among other countries. He is usually portrayed as a handsome young knight who has just slain a dragon and saved a damsel in distress. According to legend, the dragon’s blood is converted into roses.
Barcelona combines the books and the roses into one of the most lively and colorful days of the year, simply known as SantJordi. The tradition is to buy a rose for your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband or lover and to buy a book or two as well. The streets are alive with bookstalls alternating with stands of roses (about 4€ a pop in the morning, dropping to 1€ each at dusk)! The roses and the stalls are usually adorned with the senyera, the redand yellow-striped flag of Catalonia.
Yesterday’s SantJordi fell on a brisk spring day under a cloudless sky. For pictures, click on