Dia de Sant Jordi

Dia de Sant Jordi(the patron Saint of Catalunya since 1456), has been celebrated in Catalunya for many years. Just out of coincidence April 23rd also happens to be Dia Internacional del Libro (International Book Day), as two of history’s most legendary literary geniuses, Shakespeare and Spain’s very own Cervantes, passed away. Today, the center of Barcelona was packed with people as Spain’s two major shopping malls, Corte Ingles and FNAC, had set up booths piled high with books at a 10% discount along with an array of other vendors. At the same time, flower shops lined the streets selling roses of every color (even though the tradition is to give a red rose). Even if not an avid reader, most Catalans buy at least one book on Dia de Sant Jordi – parents to their children, friends to other friends, wives to husbands and visa versa, or just a gift for themselves – while boyfriends, husbands and lovers give their significant others a red rose. By the end of today, some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been purchased, half of the total yearly book sales in Catalunya!

Dia de San Jordi – Barcelona, April 23, 2012

So ‘why the red roses’ might you ask? Well, snuggle in-between your cozy sheets, sip on a warm cup of hot coco and I will tell you the story of Sant Jordi and the dragon! (English translation at the end):

La Leyenda de Sant Jordi

Según la tradición, la villa de Montblanc estaba siendo aterrorizada por un colosal dragón. La bestia se había instalado a las afueras del pueblo, infectando el aire y el agua con su aliento apestoso y causando estragos entre el ganado. En su búsqueda de alimento, cada vez se aproximaba más a las murallas, por lo que los vecinos tuvieron que buscar una forma de mantenerlo apartado. Empezaron dándole de comer ovejas; cuando éstas se acabaron, siguieron con los bueyes, y luego con los caballos. Y por fin no tuvieron más remedio que sacrificar a los propios habitantes. Se metieron los nombres de todos en un puchero, también el del rey, y el de su hija la princesa, y cada día una mano inocente decidía quien moriría la mañana siguiente. Y una tarde la escogida fue la princesa. Dicen unos que el rey lloró y suplicó a sus súbditos por la vida de su hija, pero que de nada le sirvió, ya que no era el único padre desconsolado. Cuentan otros que el rey entregó a su hija con valentía y entereza. Sea como fuere, la joven salió de las murallas y se dirigió hacia su triste destino.

Cuando el terrible dragón avanzaba hacia ella, surgió entre la bruma un hermoso caballero vestido de blanco sobre un caballo blanco que arremetió contra la bestia. El animal, herido, se sometió al caballero, que le ató al cuello un extremo del cinturón de la princesa. La dama tomó el otro extremo del cinturón y, para pasmo de los pobladores de Montblanc, condujo al dragón como a un perrito hasta la puerta de la ciudad. Allí, a la vista de todos, el caballero remató a la bestia de un certero golpe de lanza. Dicen unos que el dragón se fundió y fue absorbido por la tierra. Cuentan otros que un gran charco de sangre se formó a los pies del caballero. Sea como fuere, en aquel mismo instante creció un rosal y de sus ramas brotaron rojas rosas. Jorge, o Jordi, o George, o Giorgios, que es como se llamaba el caballero, obsequió a la princesa con una de esas rosas.

English Translation

According to tradition, the town of Montblanc was being terrorized by a huge dragon. The dragon had settled himself on the outskirts of the town, infecting the air and the water with his smelly breath and wreaking havoc among the cattle. In his search for food, he continued to move closer to the ramparts, and thus the neighbors had to figure out another way to keep him away from the town. They started giving him sheep; when he finished those, they followed with the oxen and then the horses. Finally, they had no other choice but to sacrifice their own people. They mixed together the names of the whole town (including the King and his daughter, the princess), and every day an innocent hand would have to decide who would die the next day. And one afternoon, the princess was chosen. Some say the King cried and pleaded to his subjects for the life of his daughter, but nothing helped, he was only a grieving father. Others say that the King handed over his daughter with courage and fortitude. In any case, the young girl left the walls of the city, walking towards her sad fate.

When the terrible dragon advanced towards her, a handsome knight dressed in white clothes on a white horse emerged from the mist and attacked the dragon. The animal, injured, submitted to the knight and he tied the princess’s belt around his neck. The princess takes the other end of the belt and, to the astonishment of the people of Montblonc, lead the dragon like a dog until they arrived at the door of the city. There, for everyone to see, the knight finishes off the beast with a well-aimed blow of his sword. Some say that the dragon melted into the earth. Others say that a large pool of blood formed at the feet of the knight. In any case, in that same instant red roses began to sprout up from the ground. Jorge (Spanish), o Jordi (Catalan), o George (English), or Giorgios (Greek), is what they called the knight, and he presented one of the red roses to the princess.

This year, I decided to put a spin on Sant Jordi and not only be the one giving a rose but actually dishing out two roses to both mis amores.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *