On 23rd April, Book Day is celebrated all over the world. During these uncertain times of social distancing, many of us are spending more time on indoor leisure activities such as reading, aren't we? And despite the real cause, we are also enjoying its relaxing effects.
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body, it is dreaming with open eyes, and now, more than ever, we all need some kind of getaway, just to temporarily escape from this overwhelming reality, don't you think?
But, where does this tradition come from?
The Legend of Saint George (Sant Jordi)
Legend has it that there was a terrifying dragon living near Barcelona. This dragon was always hungry and the people from the village, feeling so scared, agreed to feed him one animal a day to prevent an attack to the village. When the dragon ate the last animal, it was decided that each day one lady would be randomly sacrificed to the beast.
When the name of the princess came up one day, the King could not object and she was sent to the dragon, but just when she was about to be eaten, a very handsome knight appeared in town to kill the beast and saved the princess.
It is believed that from the dragon's blood a rose bush grew and this brave knight, Sant Jordi, gave one rose to the princess as a sign of his love for her. Everyone was happy the dragon was no longer a problem and they all lived happily ever after.
The tradition of the book and the rose
From this legend comes the tradition of gifting a rose to women on Sant Jordi's Day in Catalonia. Men usually give these flowers to their girlfriends and wives but also mothers, sisters or friends.
Thousands of roses are sold on Sant Jordi's Day. It is more common to pick a red color, symbolising passion and feminine love, but other colors are also popular. The rose comes with a wheatear, which symbolises fertility, and a Catalan flag on the ribbon or wrapping, which makes reference to the Catalan feeling of community.
Even though, the festival started as the celebration of love between lovers, with time, everyone, a friend or a relative, also became the perfect recipient of the gift. The symbol of the rose went beyond its original meaning of love and turned into a symbol of courtesy and friendship too.
In order to also celebrate Book Day, in recent years a new Sant Jordi tradition is that the ladies give the men a book.
There are bookstalls and book markets all over Barcelona on Sant Jordi's day, especially on Las Ramblas and Rambla de Catalunya.
This year, due to social distancing imposed by Covid-19's quarantine this celebration, as many others, has been cancelled and postponed to July 23rd. However, we are more than sure that catalan people will find the way to honor Sant Jordi and do their own special rose/book gifting at home.
From the whole Viscata family we'd like to wish you a Happy Book Day and a Happy Sant Jordi to all Catalans.
Stay safe, stay strong and stay positive!