Books and roses
Barcelona celebrates Sant Jordi’s day on April 23rd.
According to the local legend, there was a terrible dragon in Montblanc (Tarragona) which would violently attack men and beasts. To pacify it, lots of people were drawn and a person chosen to be delivered as a sacrifice to the monster.
One day, misfortune fell upon the king's daughter, who would have died in the beast's claws had it not been for the arrival of a handsome knight who challenged the dragon and killed it. From the spilled blood of the dragon raised a beautiful rosebush, which he gave to the princess. The knight was Sant Jordi (Saint George), and that is how the tradition of giving roses to the lovers started on the 23rd of April, Sant Jordi’s day.
On the 23rd of April books and roses stalls fill the streets as floods of people take over every Catalan town and village. The ritual consists of going for a walk and buying a rose, a book (or both) as a gift to give to beloved ones, family members or friends. It is usual to find famous authors in stalls signing books and chatting with their fans. Although Sant Jordi is the patron Saint of Catalonia since 1456, this day is not a bank holiday, but the the essential walk on this day fills the streets and squares, making it a great national festival celebrated on a working day.
The best seller books
In the evening, it is also habitual to make rankings of the best sellers of the day, always divided in categories, as if it was the Oscar Awards: best fiction book in Catalan, best fiction book in Spanish, best non-fiction books in both languages and best children’s books. This year, the best selling authors were the popular Catalan Eduardo Mendoza (although he writes in Spanish) for El enredo de la bolsa y la vida (Spanish for “The Tangle of the bag and the Life”) and the Swedish Jonas Jonasson for "The Centenarian Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared", which was also the most sold novel in Sweden during 2010 and has lately become very popular all across Europe.
On an optimistic note, and despite the economical crisis, book sales on Sant Jordi’s day triggered revenues of around 18,3 million euros (which is more than two years ago), and so book sellers feel satisfied and happy with these figures in view of the current times.