Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sant Jordi from the Distance

Hey! How is week 4 going? Wow, I feel like I just started the quarter and we have already done a third of it! Even though it's being a busy one and I already have some midterms, this is a very nice week. Finally, the Spring season arrived to the city. It's warm, flowers are blooming and everyone seems to be happier (or maybe it's just my optimistic impression). Anyways, it's a pleasure to walk around the city without a jacket. Last Saturday, April 23rd, was a big day back home. It's a holiday called La Diada de Sant Jordi (the day of Saint George). These pictures I'm posting here were taken in Barcelona, the last Sant Jordi I spent there two years ago before I left. The following extract is from the description of the day in Wikipedia, it's actually quite nicely summed up:
"La Diada de Sant Jordi, also known as el dia de la rosa (The Day of the Rose) or el dia del llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23 April, with similarities to Valentine's Day and some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of the celebrations. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital of both Catalan and Spanish languages and the combination of love and literacy was quickly adopted."
I think it's the perfect day to visit Barcelona or any Catalan city. Maybe that's why last weekend I felt quite homesick to be honest... It's in days like these when I miss being home the most. This day has something special. Maybe because it's when the weather starts being nice, people are in a happy mood and the streets are really crowded. In the streets of the city, they put large stands with tones of books to sell. They even have tents with famous authors signing their books. There are also many celebrities promoting movies, musicals or theater plays. Some TV shows are also broadcast from the streets instead of the regular studios. 

This holiday brings me back a lot of memories from my childhood (says the grandfather...). At school, we used to represent the legend of Saint George. To sum the story up, and sorry if I spoil it, there was a princess, threatened by the terrible dragon. Saint George, who is in love with her, kills the dragon and saves the princess. From the blood of the beast, roses start blooming... which is why it's a tradition for men to give a rose to our princesses in that day; however, if you ever have the chance to spend Sant Jordi in Spain, don't be rude and get also a book if you don't want her to be angry. The girl of my life used to give me great books every year since I was a child, thanks mum!

There are many cultural events going on in the city during that day. It's not one of these holidays where partying and alcohol are involved, but it's certainly a big one back home. I'm not sure when I will be able to spend it again back there, but I definitely recommend you to do it any year! This is a video with some images of the streets of Barcelona a couple years ago.

I hope you are all having a good time at school and most of all, enjoying the spring weather! I'm about to turn the AC on, and I thought I would never do it again! See you soon!

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