Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare are considered to be two of the greatest writers in the history of world literature, and not only were they contemporaries, but they died on the same day - April 23rd, 1616. In Catalonia, an autonomous region in NE Spain, April 23rd is celebrated as both the Day of the Book (in honor of Shakespeare and Cervantes) and the Day of the Rose because it is the day we celebrate the patron saint of Catalonia, Sant Jordi (see previous post for more about this).
Please join me on a photo tour of Barcelona on this special day.....
News reports this morning predicted that over six million roses will be sold in Catalonia today. The Sant Jordi rose has become a patriotic symbol of Catalan tradition so all roses come adorned with the Catalan flag, four red stripes on a field of maize.
The most popular purchase is a single long-stemmed rose. You can buy one from a florist or from one of several charitable organizations, which use the event as a fundraising activity.
Years ago, buying a rose for your beloved meant settling on a beautiful red one. Nowadays you can also choose from a wide variety of colors. In fact, this year there's even a rose sporting the colors of the European champion soccer team, Barcelona Football Club!
When we woke up this morning, the skies were overcast and showers threatened to spoil the chance of making our book purchases at an outdoor stand. World famous authors are thrilled to come to Barcelona to sign their books for dedicated fans. About half of all the book purchases in a typical year in Catalonia are made on Sant Jordi's Day!
What if it rains on Sant Jordi's Day? Not to worry, of course. There are dozens of indoor bookshops waiting to receive dry or wet booklovers such as Llibreria Documenta.
Streets in the city center are closed to traffic so people can enjoy a leisurely stroll among roses and books.
Welcome to BookWorld, where children learn to love reading.
Kids can participate in a book exchange, listen to a story, attend a poetry workshop ....
.... or even meet their favorite character!
Sant Jordi's day kicks off early in the morning and lasts until well past sundown. Even the hardiest of booklovers can get tired after a long day of browsing and buying books!