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Festa San Jordi 2009 (St. George)

10 May, 2009 (09:19) | Living in Europe | By: admin

April 23, 2009
Once again it is the holiday of San Jordi. Of all the Catalàn celebrations, this one is my favorite. It is a playful, sweet, goofy and romantic day. The combination of spring weather and Catalan joie de vivre has everyone going giddy from dawn to dusk. Patron Saint of Catalonia, international knight-errant San Jordi (Saint George) supposedly slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful princess south of Barcelona. From the dragon’s blood sprouted a rosebush, from which the hero plucked the prettiest for the princess.

This is the part I like; In 1923, this Catalan Valentine’s Day merged with International Book Day to mark the anniversary of the April 23, 1616 deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.

Over four million roses and half a million books are sold in Catalonia on Sant Jordi’s Day, men giving their inamoratas roses and the ladies giving books in return. Only over the years it has reversed, where often the men give women a book and women give a rose to their man.

Many authors are out, signing their books. I love that there is a celebration for writers. If I had it together I could set up a make-shift stall and sell my book Horizontal Rain. Unfortunately I wouldn’t have many buyers here in Barcelona though, as my book is in English. However I like the idea of it.

All this amounts to florists and book authors making big money on this one day every year. I head out with Quixote in my bike basket to take it all in:
Quixote and I shopping for the perfect rose to buy for Mark

Gaudí dedicated an entire house, Casa Batlló, to the Sant Jordi theme with the cross of Saint George implanted in the scaly roof and the bones of the dragon’s victims framing the windows of the main facade.
Casa Batlló – cross of San Jordi in scaly roof, bones framing windows of Casa Batlló main facade.

Quixote and I ride around the streets of Gracia. Plaça Rius y Taulet is teeming with kids and adults alike buying books at bargain prices.

Book stalls at Plaça Rius y Taulet filled with kids. In the last shot the kids appear to be more interested in petting Quixote in my basket than in any books.
The roses Quixote and I selected for Mark, the book Mark bought for me.


San Jordi 2007

Our first year living here in Barcelona we were asked to participate in an art event celebrating San Jordi. We were living in Raval at the time, waiting for our deal to go through when we bought our piso that we now live in. Along with 49 other artists, Mark and I were given a blank book to fill for an exhibit in the sculpture garden of a cool store in Gracia. Our book had photos by Mark and descriptive writing by me documenting our initial efforts to integrate into Catalan society.

The gallery was in Gracia where we now live. I didn’t keep a blog in those days, but I did take lots of photos of the exhibit. We felt privileged to be a part of it. Our good friend Cristina got us involved in it.
Here are some thumbnails you can click on to enlarge if you want.

San Jordi, 2007:

Cristina, Rolando and I. We all have books in this exhibit. We have all been friends for 13 years now.
Miscellaneous shots of artists and guests perouseing the various books.


One of the reasons I love Festa San Jordi is because there are no firecrackers, no devils and marching bands, only romance and literature and balloons abound. Quixote is a great accomplice, for he is a Catalan dog.