Most of you already know it, but from those that don’t, I am from Spain. Particularly, I’m from Catalonia, the region closest to France (you might also know it because Barcelona is in it).
One month from today, on April 23rd, we have a very special holiday that I would like to share with you. It’s part of our tradition and one of my favourite days of the year: Saint George or, as we call it, Sant Jordi. And why is it special? BECAUSE IT’S THE DAY OF THE BOOK. NATIONAL BOOK DAY.
I was surprised a few weeks ago to learn it was international book day, which I never knew about, so I thought it would be nice to share our own and the story that goes with it. I think that other countries also have April 23rd as their book day, but this is our tradition:
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Once upon a time there was a big scary dragon terrorizing the people in the city of Montblanc. Citizens were so afraid that they cut a deal with the creature, providing it with animals so it wouldn’t eat the villagerss. However, as time passed they realized that number of animals they had was decreasing and they couldn’t sustain themselves, so they decided to organize a lottery of sorts in which they would enter the names of everyone in the village, and the one picked would be sacrified to the dragon. They all agreed and so their new deal with the dragon began.
One day, the name on the ticket was the princess! The king was hesitant but the princess declare that it was her duty: all the other victims had gone with it and she was no exception, she had agreed when they all wrote their names down.
When the princess was reaching the dragon’s cave, she came across a knight named George, who had heard of the feared dragon. He offered to battle the dragon and a combat took place. George was victorious and defeated the dragon. From the blood that escape from the beast bursted a rose that the knight gave to the princess.
Back to Montblanc, the princess described what happened. George and the princess got engaged and the villagers stopped living in fear.
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There are of course some variations to the story but that is it. To commemorate that story, on April 23rd it’s tradition that men give women a rose, as the knight did to the princess, and women give men a book, to celebrate and remember the story, which I think is a beautiful tradition and one I love to participate in. However, in my case, I got tired of roses very quickly and asked to be given a book instead. Normally, you give a rose or a book to your girlfriend or boyfriend but parents usually give them to their kids too, and viceversa (at least in my case). Of course, women can also receive books and men flowers, but the tradition dictates it as I have mentioned.
On that day, you can see stands on the streets, and schools also participate, with the older students organizing a mini shop and visiting the other stands with their students. It’s so nice and refreshing to see so many people in bookstores, and celebrating this day. Even in schools you can see girls with some roses and a smile on their faces and couples standing in front of stands deciding which book to buy.
Also improtant that day are book signings. The most popular ones are in Barcelona, where a lot of writers gather to sign their books in the street. Normally those last for an hour, but authors change places a lot and you can find one author at different stands during the day. Mostly, they’re local authors but some international writers also come and join the party!
What do you think about the story? Do you also celebrate National Book Day? What do you do on that day?
I wanted to share this tradition with you all because we love books and now you have an excuse to treat yo self next month. You’re welcome 😉