I sometimes like to stop, go to a secret spot, look at the bright/cloudy night ahead me and ask myself: If you had the power to transport yourself instantly, would you use in this moment?
Next Thursday, after a relaxed and productive day (we won’t have school), no matter how the day will be, the answer will be yes.
Back home, in Catalonia-the Spanish province I’m from, whose capital is Barcelona-this day is La Diada del Llibre i de la rosa, or in English, “The Day of the Book and the Rose.” On this day, the most touristic street of Barcelona, les Rambles, is not full of sunburnt strangers eating paella and drinking Sangria, none of them typically from Catalonia, but by inhabitants of Barcelona. Just for a day, we recover all famous or unknown avenues and streets and realize we can outnumber tourists pretty easily. Not only that, but in outdoor stands, just built for the day, we buy books, a pretty rare fact nowadays. Numbers even say half of the book sales yearly are made on just this one day, and probably an even bigger number of Roses.
This very profitable tradition to booksellers and florists comes from a double tradition: men giving roses to women and women giving books to men. This romantic tradition has been going on since the XV century and is celebrated much more than Valentine’s Day. The universal folklore situates this legend in the Anatolian peninsula, in current day Turkey. However, in our own narrative we situated the story in the southern village of Montblanc. With its medieval castle, it is easy to envision…
In the medieval times there was once a terrible animal that could fly, swim and kill everyone and everything. The population of a nearby village to his cave reached an agreement and decided to give the dragon a young woman everyday so he would be satisfied. So they took an empty pot and filled it with papers in which they wrote the name of every young girl of the village. Unluckily, one morning the daughter of the king was elected and despite her father’s despair she left the village in the early afternoon. A few hours later, when she finally reached the cave she suddenly saw the dragon. Paralyzed, she waited for her end to come as the dragon came closer. When it was about to eat her, a brave knight pierced the thick skin and saved her life. To add to her surprise, when the blood of the dragon touched the soil, roses grew and the knight took the biggest one and gave it to the princess. He accompanied her to the village and they were received with the greatest enthusiasm. Everyone was dancing in incredulity and gratitude. The king offered his daughter’s hand in marriage, but the kinht politely refused and faded away into the night, leaving just his name and final gesture behind:”Jordi, el cavaller que va matar el drac” (George, the knight who killed the dragon).
Many centuries later, in 1926, a bookseller (who else?) realized that both Shakespeare and Cervantes died the same day, the 23rd of April of 1616. This information appears to not be exact, with Cervantes death on the 22nd and was burial on the 23rd and Shakespeare’s death on the 23rd of the Julian calendar that corresponds to the 3rd May in the Gregorian calendar. However, the success was immediate and in 1995 UNESCO accepted the 23rd of April as the Universal Book day.
By coming here, it is so easy to believe we don’t have roots; that because we’re not fully grown we can survive in stranger environments, where our language and traditions are more a curiosity than a reality.
Written by Aina de Lapparent
Edited by Carlos Sevilla
Copy edited by Emily Perotti