Just another week and Catalonia is again filled with rose and book stalls. Any true Catalan man buys his wife (girlfriend, mother, lover etc) a – usually – red rose. She in turn gives him a book; a novel or perhaps a hobby book about his favorite football club, for example. The date: the 23rd of April, the day of Saint George, which of course is called Sant Jordi. The Catalan version of Saint George’s story is as follows:
The county town of Montblanc, sometime during the Middle Ages. The town is terrorized by a dragon, which lives outside the city walls in the middle of the forest. The monster requires an enormous amount of food each day. More precisely: meat. First, all animals of Montblanc are sacrified. Next on the hit list are the town’s children. The following weeks are the worst in the history of Montblanc. Then on the 23th of April the only young person of Montblanc surviving is the beautiful daughter of the king. With hefty reluctancy, the princess is on her way to the dragon. Fortunately, on a dark forest path she meets knight Jordi. “Why arth thy so sad, O thy beautiful lady?” The princess tells her tragic story. Do not worry, Jordi will slaughter this dragon. On one condition: the inhabitants of Montblanc have to convert themselves to Christianity – yes, knight Jordi did not for nothing became known as Saint Jordi. This is promised eagerly by the princess. Upon which Jordi slays the dragon and the mortally wounded animal is dragged with the help of his faithful four-footer to Montblanc’s main square. There, the valiant knight gives the beast its final stroke in the neck. And when the dragon dies, from his bleeding wounds red roses start to bloom. And this light romantic story ends as follows: Jordi picks the most beautiful rose and gives it to the relieved princess.
• Here you can find the official Sant Jordi program of the municipality of Barcelona.
• In the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya until 15 July you can visit the exhibition Catalunya 1400 – El Gòtic Internacional to see 14th century Catalan art. Under the name L’altra història de Sant Jordi they also pay tribute to the Catalan patron saint. Here you can find more information. Address: Palau Nacional, Parc de Montjuïc. Metro: L1 and L3 (Espanya).
Ad van der Neut
Ad van der Neut is editor/writer and guide for Orange Monkey Tours