While every holiday here is incredibly fun and full of life, there is no holiday in Barcelona that compares to Sant Jordi. It is by and far my absolute favorite. For those that might not remember, Sant Jordi is Barcelona’s answer to Valentine’s Day only bigger and better.
Instead of the traditional Hallmark card, roses and chocolate, it’s a bit of a twist here. Combined with International Book Day, the tradition is that men give women a rose and women give men a book. This can be a friend, a family member or someone you love – it does not matter. It is all inclusive.
The legend of Sant Jordi is about Saint George (Jordi here in Catalunya) rescuing the princess from the dragon. So much of what you see during the day is images of Sant Jordi and the Dragon. When Sant Jordi stabbed the dragon. In the spot where the dragon’s blood spilled, a rose bush grew. And Sant Jordi plucked a rose to give to the princess. As you walk down most every street you are confronted with table after table of either roses or books. And as you near the center of the city, these tables become larger and larger and become tents filled with people, authors and books. Roses everywhere but not just real roses but roses created by artists – jewelry, puppets and more. You can tell they’ve had to get creative over the years in order to differentiate from the competition.
My friend Jodi is in town and her timing could not have been better because I have spent the last few months holed up in our apartment during the day. With beautiful weather on Sant Jordi, it was a perfect day to walk around town to see what was going on. We walked from my apartment in Gracia down to Placa Catalunya – normally about a 45 minute walk but much longer when you take time to smell the roses (ok that was a really bad pun). We took our time walking around and checking out all the sights along the way. Not to mention there were huge crowds of people once we got to Passeig de Gracia – it was hard to walk at much more than a snail’s pace at times. I’m pretty sure all of Spain was in the general Placa Catalunya area which could explain a bit about the economy here since these people were obviously not working!
After we made our way thru Placa Catalunya, I had to make my way up to school for the kids’ annual Sant Jordi festival. Again, this is my favorite of all the performances they put on each year. It is traditional, it is adorable and it brings a tear to my eye every year as I think of how lucky we have been to have the opportunity for our kids to go to such a wonderful school that does these kinds of things.
And while the Sant Jordi festival is LONG at the boys’ school (it was 2 1/2 hours and there is no seating for the parents so you are standing the whole time), it is worth it and so much fun!
And here comes Aidan’s class!
There was even a casteller performance from some of the middle schoolers! This is no easy feat!
No festival is complete without a gegante (giant)! In our case, it’s Benjamin Franklin (the boys’ school is the Benjamin Franklin International School)!
As always, the most fun performance and definitely not traditional is that done by the 11th graders. Each year, they do their own interpretation of the legend of Sant Jordi…with a modern twist. It’s a lot of fun to watch and while it would be tempting to grab the kids and go after their performances are done, we’d hate to miss out on this!
That was it. It was a fun day had by all and with love in the air, I should also note, that on a rare day that we walked home, Aidan decided to tell me that he has a girl that he likes in his class. He wanted to know how he could tell her he likes her and if she would be his girlfriend. OMG where does the time go? How can my baby be at a stage where he likes girls? We had an awesome and mature conversation the whole way home from school. And while I’m sad that mom isn’t the love of his life any more, I love this young man he is becoming. What better day to talk about all different kinds of love than Sant Jordi??