Sant Jordi: ‘a celebration for everyone’ of books and love
For the day of books and roses on April 23, the City Council has made agreements to desaturate the most crowded areas
“I love you as one loves a hero, a book, as one loves all beautiful things, purely and without self-interest.” Written by writer Charles Baudelaire to his contemporary, Victor Hugo, in 1840, those words still ring true today. And this feeling, celebrated by many book-lovers year round, gets its own special day, here: Sant Jordi, April 23.
Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia, where it’s celebrated as a day for love, both romantic and platonic. Traditionally, two kinds of gifts that are exchanged: one, a rose, and another, a book. Consquently, in Barcelona and all throughout the country, the main streets will be filled with booths selling both roses and books. Indeed, this is a big day for businesses selling either.
A good day or business
It is an especially crucial moment for booksellers, where fewer people now shop in person. The Bookseller’s Guild of Catalonia, though, has high hopes for this year. In a press conference on the subject, they detailed that it promises to be fruitful: after two years of falling on a weekend, it’s taking place again on a Monday.
Inasmuch, as they explained during a press conference, the guild is hoping for high sales the weekend leading up to the day, including on the day itself. Concretely, they estimate a turnover of over €21,000, and a growth of 4 % compared to 2016.
‘Nothing to do with politics’
“There will be nothing to do with politics on Sant Jordi, because it’s a celebration for everyone,” proclaimed the president of the Bokseller’s Guild of Catalonia, Maria Carme Ferrer. And the word ‘everyone’ is a barely an overstatement. On April 23, the main streets in Barcelona will be flooded with people, as they have been in years past.
To avoid this making things too difficult, an agreement was made with the City Council of Barcelona. As per the agreement, new spaces will be incorporated in the city to facilitate the walk between stops, and to avoid areas becoming too oversaturated. In particular, Consell de Cent will be incorporated as a "connector" in the section between Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya and Balmes.
The world book day
The day of Sant Jordi, or Saint George in English, is actually observed in many countries worldwide. As the story goes, a knight in shining armor rode in to save a princess from a dragon. After he slayed the dragon, out of the beast’s blood grew a single rose, which the hero presented to the damsel. Although no books are mentioned in the tale, April 23 also happens to be the UNESCO World Book Day, giving an opportunity for a celebration of love entailing much more than cards and jewelry.