Legend has it that Sant Jordi began when a Roman soldier who was born in the 3rd century in Capadocia, Turkey, was martyred for not carrying out the emperor’s edict to persecute all Christians. Now, add some really gossipy townspeople to the mix who start spinning tall tales about our heroic soldier, and 5 centuries later, watch how suddenly Jordi becomes known for slaying some mysterious dragon determined to take the life of a king’s daughter. And right when his heavy sword pierces the tough, scaly green skin of the mighty beast, the blood that falls from his blade, hits the ground, and in its place, grew one single red rose. (Flickr photo by HAMED MASOUMI)
Similar to Saint Valentines Day, on Sant Jordi, it is now customary to give anyone of the female persuasion a single rose, while men are given a book in honor of both William Shakespeare Cervante’s death on April 23, 1616. Seem a bit odd to put these two events together? Historically, the the entire book gig wasn’t traditionally recognized until 1923, when a bookseller decided to that these two legendary authors should be recognized for their work. Hence, the merging of two traditions.
In all honesty, I love this holiday. Despite the recent introduction of alien roses dyed in various blue, orange and rainbow hues, valued at anywhere between 2 and 6 euros a piece, I can’t help but bask in vibrant energy of the day. Walk into any main square in Cataluna, and you’ll have a field day watching people peruse stands of books and roses, weighing their options, chatting up their friends, and generally enjoying the beautiful spring day.
Granted, although this holiday has its oddity in that we’re celebrating a knights slaying of a mythical dragon, it sure beats magical rabbits laying chocolate eggs or fat, drunk guys flying through the air with the help of an organized team of domestic reindeer. Odd, maybe, but I think if Jordi walked the streets of Cataluna today, 800 years after his rather unfortunate decapitation, he’d probably be tickled to see how much hoopla was made in his honor.
Now, if only I can make so that when Ryan and I come back to life in 800+ years, there will be an Iberian holiday called Catavino Day, celebrated by exchanging innumerable amounts of Spanish and Portuguese wine with your loved ones
Happy Dragon Hunting!