Love and culture, roses and books; the two great protagonists of the Diada
Couples walk happily by the hand. They look at each other, embrace and kiss each other. The women wear a beautiful red rose and the men look at a book that they have just given away. The squares of all the cities and towns of Catalonia are filled for a day with colorful stalls in the streets. You breathe love and culture. This is Sant Jordi, the tradition that marks the arrival of the most romantic day of the year for Catalans.
Once again, the streets will be impregnated with the smell of roses and books. Hundreds of curious people will come to the main avenues to enjoy one of the days with the most tourist and local attractions. Florists will sell bouquets without stopping and the book industry will reach its peak today in the most emotional day for writers. Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia since the 15th century and, according to the popular festival, men must give a rose to women and this is a book for their partner.
The dragon and the princess
Legend has it that once in the small town of Montblanc, in the Conca de Barberà, one day an evil dragon appeared that terrified the neighbors. These, to prevent their attacks from becoming a massacre, decided that they would draw a lot among the population and give the dragon one person each day.
Early the daughter of the king was chosen and, when she was going to be devoured by the monster, a brave knight named Sant Jordi interposed between them. The hidalgo fought the dragon and killed him. From his blood came a rose bush, from which Sant Jordi took the most beautiful flower and handed it to the princess. This day commemorates the death of the Saint, which took place in the year 303.
Hence the tradition that men give a rose to their partners or friends, companions and family.
Flowers for all tastes
A decade ago creativity took over some florists to put aside the sale of conventional red roses, although these are still the best sellers. Some merchants have opted for roses made of wood, plastic or paper, and for colors such as pink, yellow or blue. With glitter, personalized spikes, original ribbons or bathed with a variety of perfumes. You can find all kinds of customizations. In fact, it is a claim that offers the possibility of writing the name of the recipient on one of the petals.
In 2017, more than six million flowers were sold and it is expected that this year the figures will be repeated.
World day of the book
Although it has nothing to do with Santo, April 23 is also celebrated on Book Day,. It began to be celebrated on October 7, 1926 in commemoration of the day of the birth of Miguel de Cervantes, although later the party was moved to April 23, the day of his death.
In 1995, UNESCO instituted that same World Book and Copyright Day. On April 23, 1981, the poet Garcilaso de la Vega died and, although in different years, on the same day, references were also made to literature such as Shakespeare or Josep Pla.
On April 23 died, among other writers, Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes
Although the Diada is celebrated throughout Catalonia, it is more multitudinous and colorful in Barcelona, especially on the Rambla. The famous promenade that connects the Plaza de Cataluña with the Port is filled with book and flower stalls from early in the morning. Soon after, waves of people gather to walk.
For booksellers and publishers, Sant Jordi is the day of the year that more books are sold. But not only is it a long-awaited occasion for them. For readers it is a unique opportunity to be very close to their favorite writers, since many authors sign their works at street level.
Last year more than 300 writers participated in the book signing. They took place in about 80 bookstores and street stalls and a variety of artists showed up. Among those of this year, Fernando Aramburu, Eduardo Mendoza or Maria Dueñas are some of those who will appear in the celebration. Sarah Lark, Megan Maxwell or Ben Brook will intervene as internationals and, Carme Riera, Rafel Nadal or Xavier Bosch will not miss the appointment, among many others.
But not everything is limited to the stops of roses and books, there are many more activities that are worthwhile in the city. Among them, the opening cry, the doors open at city council.