Hoy comparto con vosotros la mirada de un buen amigo mío sobre la Diada de Sant Jordi. George Semler nos relata éste día tan especial para los catalantes de una forma que no podría ser más real y humana que cómo lo sentimos los que lo vivimos cada año.
La Diada de Sant Jordi: Barcelona's Lovers' Day
by: George Semler
Barcelona's best day? Easy. April 23---St. George's Day, La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona's Valentine's day---a day when kissometer readings go off the charts, a day so sweet and playful, so goofy and romantic, that six million Catalans go giddy from dawn to dusk.
Patron saint of Catalonia, international knight-errant St. George allegedly
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 blossom for the princess. Hence, the traditional Rose Festival celebrated in Barcelona since the Middle Ages to honor chivalry and romantic love, a day for men and mice alike to give their true loves roses. In 1923, the lovers' fest merged with International Book Day to mark the anniversary of the all-but-simultaneous April 23, 1616 deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.
More than 4 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. Bookstalls run the length of the Rambla, and although it's an official workday, nearly all of Barcelona manages to play hooky and wander. In the city, St. George is everywhere, beginning on the facade of the Catalonian seat of government, the Generalitat. Art Nouveau master Eusebi Arnau sculpted Sant Jordi skewering the unlucky dragon on the facade of the Casa Amatller as well as on the corner of Els Quatre Gats café, while Gaudí dedicated an entire house, Casa Batlló, to the Sant Jordi theme with the cross of the saint implanted in the scaly roof and the bones of the dragon's victims framing the windows of the main facade.
A Roman soldier martyrized for his Christian beliefs in the 4th century, St. George is one of the most venerated of all saints, patron of England, Greece, and Romania, among other places. Associated with springtime and fertility, Sant Jordi roses include a spike of wheat and a little red and yellow senyera, the Catalonian flag. And the books? There's the Shakespeare and Cervantes anniversary, and Barcelona is the publishing capital of the Spanish-speaking world. Language and love have, in any case, always been closely associated, to the point that contemporary evolutionary psychologists identify the cerebral cortex as both the erotic and linguistic center of the human brain...and don't affairs of the heart inevitably lead to exchanges of letters, books, poetry?
By midnight, the Rambla, once a watercourse, is again awash with flower water and covered with rose clippings and tiny red-and-yellow--striped ribbons with diminutive letters spelling "Sant Jordi"---"Diada de la Rosa" (Day of the Rose)---"t'estimo" (I love you).