There is no better place in the world to celebrate the 23rd of April; the International Day of the Book. This is a very important celebration, not only because it commemorate the anniversary of the city’s protector St. George but also because the whole city becomes a great party.
The International Day of the Book
During Saint George´s Day, las Ramblas gets full of stalls full books and red roses. The tradition suggests that on this day, which is holiday in Barcelona and throughout Catalonia, it is required to give men a book and a red rose to the ladies. That´s what the custom dictates, but as we live in the postmodern times and the ladies read more than men you can disrupt the order.
The tradition dates back to the fifteenth century and today the reality is quite different. During this day, as well as some days before and after de celebration, booksellers make a discount of 5% on the price marked on the label. Remember that in Spain the price of new books (unless they are antiques or second hand) is fixed for all establishments.
Although the stalls will be filled with new releases, there is always a bold bookseller that temps the bibliophile to browse the shelves. There is always a classic, a great poem book and a novel that you´ve wanted to read or borrowed but never bought.
Another excuse to enjoy this special day is in the sense of end of the paper books in the air. The advance of the ebooks, as well as the intangible information that now is being read on pixel screen (as you read now) leaves a strange aftertaste. The physical and material book as we know it, seems to be coming to an end, but this is not it. Still, what I just wrote shouldn’t be a cause for sadness, just the opposite. When you walk around Las Ramblas you should that also in 20 years this very festival will be celebrated differently.
You also have to watch the calendar of events scheduled by the booksellers, which will organize conferences and debates of interest. Not to mention contact with the most popular writers that are usually eager to chat with their readers and sign some copies.
San Jorge, San Jordi and Saint George
Legend has it that in the remote village of Cappadocia lived a dragon, which required locals, a lamb and a human to satisfy its hunger. The victims were chosen randomly until a beautiful princess was chosen, who asked knight George to protect her and kill the dragon. Willing to bend to the wishes of such a pretty girl, he killed the beast with his sword and on the dragon’s blood red roses grew.
The Jungian and Freudian symbolism of this classic tale of helpless princesses and brave knights is very clear. And you know that the explanation for all this beautiful stories will be always found in the books.
Finish a perfect Saint George´s Day by reading in one of the apartments in Barcelona city center .