dijous, 21 de maig del 2009

Sant Jordi - The real day

Legends are part of culture, as well as real life is. So, now that you know Sant Jordi's legend, let me talk about the real Sant Jordi's day every 23rd April.

It does not matter if it rains or not, for Sant Jordi, culture is on the streets. In every city, big or small, there are stalls full of books and stalls with buckets filled with roses. Boys (and fathers) buy their girls a rose and girls buy their boys a book. However, I should say I don't think this tradition is fair at all and I always ask for my book ;). And sure, I try to buy a rose (or make a paper rose myself) for my boy. Why not?

Kids at kindergarten are told about Sant Jordi and all school organise differentsactivities this day. We learn Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia and that he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave her a rose which came out from the dragon's blood. We paint pictures and we read the legend over and over again. Until you realise it is a legend. But, still you think Sant Jordi is a very special day and up to now I've met no one who does not enjoy this day.

What might strike is, that despite the fact of being the day of the patron saint, Sant Jordi is not a bank holiday in Catalonia (but it is in Aragon, I think, where Jorge --Jordi in Spanish)--is also the patron saint). This, in my opinion makes this day even more peculiar and special: people try to go to the stalls anyway.

The stalls are usually located at the city centre, and if the city has what we call a "rambla" (which is nothing more than a sandy stream which has been paved), then the stalls are in the rambla. The most emblematic place with stalls in Catalonia is in Barcelona, where you have more than 1km of stalls on both sides in Rambla Catalunya and Les Rambles (by the way, now you know where the name of the famous "Rambles" comes from). Famous and media writers sign their books in the stalls. Catalan newspapers (and the edition for Catalonia of Spanish newspapers) edit a special supplement with book reviews and reccomendation which they give away in les Rambles for free. Political parties have their own stalls. Catalan radio stations make their programs near the stalls. The Catalan TV channel (TV3) makes some programmes from there (e.g. the news). And then some people try to attract other people's attention in different ways.

This year, as other years, there was a man wrapped in cardboard with a text in Catalan and Spanish (one language per side) "Regret your sins, the end is near" or something like this (the text was longer but I can't remember. And there was also a boy and a girl giving bookmarkers which advertised eggs produced in Catalonia. Actually, this couple was very funny. They were dressed with the typical Catalan costume and speaking like in the dialect of the countryside in my area, which attracted the "people from the city" attention. I kept looking at them and she said: "You know, maybe she doesn't know where we are from". I said: "well, yes, you speak like me, you are from the north, Girona". The boy said: "Even further in the north". I replied: "Yes, so am I". And they told us the story of the eggs. It was very funny indeed.

This Sant Jordi I did not buy any book. In fact, I rarely buy any book for Sant Jordi, despite you get a 10% discount --the stalls are very crowded! I just like to glance at books, stroll , linger in the stalls and enjoy the atmosphere.

As for the books, well, many stalls have similar books and there is always a list of best sellers. This year, the success has been for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (in Catalan: "Els homes que no estimaven les dones" -literally "The men who did not love women", which would call for a funny discussion on books' titles translation!) by Stieg Larsson, El silenci (The Silence) by Gaspar Hernández L'últim home que parlava català (The last man who spoke Catalan) by Carles Casajuana and then we have Stieg Larsson again with The Girl Who Played with Fire. There are some other Catalan authors and then there's Paolo Giordano with The Solitude of Prime Numbers and John Boyne with The boy in the striped Pyjamas.

As for roses, you find roses of any possible colour: rose, blue, yellow, black, multicoloured! (I don't know how do they grow them!), but I prefer the beautiful red rose which is always accompanied with a spike of wheat and usually wrapped in plastic with a Catalan flag (I don't mind the flag and the plastic, I like the rose).

Well, you can see that Sant Jordi is a very special day here. For me, it is the most beautiful day in Catalonia. And a good day for promoting the habit of reading, which we need so much in this country...

Here are some pictures I would like to share with you. They were taken in Barcelona so you will get the idea of how big this day is (maybe too many people in Barcelona!):

People crowding les Rambles

Me in les Rambles

Plaça Catalunya (in the right you can see TV3 stall -blue stall with number 3 on it at the background)

Books in a stall

Bookshop with people (you don't see this very often!)

Red rose. Have a guess: which one is the Catalan for "red rose"?

The dragon reader

Rosing (different reasons to buy a rose):
Jo sóc clàssic: per amor! --> I'm classic and do it for love!
Perquè després ja sé què passa --> Because I know what happens afterwards...
Perquè em preguntin qui me l'ha regalat! --> Because they will ask me who gave it to me!
Per amor propi! --> Self-love
Perquè és més barat que un llibre --> Because it's cheaper than a book!
Pot ser el primer pas per aconseguir el seu mòbil --> It might be the first step to get her mobile phone number!
Ho reconec! Sóc un pilota! --> I admit it! I'm a crawler!
Encara crec en la llegenda de Sant Jordi --> I still believe in Sant Jordi's legend!
Perquè són les més maques que he vist avui --> They are the most beautiful one I've seen today!


Rose & books

A rose for the Bicing bike too! (or Xavi, a bike and a rose)

3 comentaris:

MaryMoon ha dit...

és un dia que m'encanta, llàstima que aquest any me'l van ben aixafar i tenia un examen... Nosaltres innovem i de tant en tant canviem el llibre per un CD de música catalana. Fem país, sempre!

Anna ha dit...

Què dius! Un examen per St. Jordi!!! Això és sacrilegi!! jajaja
Jo amb St. Jordi sóc més aviat clàssica i no innovo, però vaaaaaaa mentres sigui un CD de música catalana ho accepto ;).

Anònim ha dit...

Felicitats pel blog. Tinc amics xinesos que ja l'utilitzen per aprendre sobre el nostre país. Pel que fa a St. Jordi, un post molt encertat. Els ha sorprès molt agradablement. M'han dit:un país que llegeix és un país amb futur.