24 April 2009

La Diada de Sant Jordi

The kids left us a week ago, and I reckon that it's taken us that long to recover. The good news is that they had a great time, and there was even talk, (between them during the last meal with us), of quitting school in Berlin and coming to live with us in Barcelona. Hmmm... perhaps they should ask us how we truly feel about that idea. Phrases spring to mind that include words such as dead, body, over and my, with some additional curses for embellishment and emphasis.

Catalunya celebrated La Diada de Sant Jordi on April 23rd which is known as St. George's Day in England, and celebrated in about 20 countries and cities - mostly in Europe and the fringes of the Mediterranean.

Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalunya and, in the region, the day is celebrated in much the same way as St. Valentine's Day is celebrated elsewhere. Barcelona lovers are out in force, and it's a given that every opportunity for a lingering kiss must be taken.

Legend has it that in the spot where St. George slew a dragon just south of Barcelona, a rosebush grew from the blood of the beast. He picked the prettiest rose to give to the princess he had just rescued. This tradition carried on, and each Diada de Sant Jordi was celebrated with men and women giving each other roses to signify their love.

Red_RosesRed roses glow in the warm spring sunlight

In 1923, a shrewd bookseller cashed in on the hype by promoting April 23rd also as the day on which 2 famous writers, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, both died in 1616. UNESCO also jumped in on the act and claimed April 23rd as World Book Day. A new tradition was born in the Catalunya region and, instead of roses, women started giving books to their men. In cafés around Barcelona, it is common to hold 24 hour readings of Cervantes' Don Quixote on April 23rd.

Las_Ramblas_Bookseller01Book sellers were extremely busy on Las Ramblas

We had some errands to run in the city, so we decided to stroll down Las Ramblas to see some of the festivities. The avenue was packed tighter than a sardine tin with book and flower sellers lined up in booths on each side with the public trying to move down the middle.

Blue_RosesBlue roses were also very popular

We opted to walk down the roadways on either side to avoid the crush, as well as to evade the pickpockets who we knew would be taking advantage of the crowds to increase their personal wealth.

Las_Ramblas_Bookseller02The start of the crowds in Las Ramblas

Occasionally we'd venture into the middle if something caught our eyes - such as this flower seller who was printing little logos onto the roses that he was selling.

Flower_PrinterThe flower printer

Hello_KittyHello Kitty logo on a white rose

FC_Barcelona_logoFC Barcelona logo

Once we neared the bottom of La Rambla, we veered off into Plaça Reial for a break. It's a delightful square surrounded by apartment buildings with busy restaurants and cafés on the ground floor.

Placa_Reial_BarcelonaPlaça Reial

Walking_the_HoundsJust walking the beasts

Smoke_BreakTime for a sit and a smoke

Of course, our Sant Jordi day would not have been complete if we hadn't bought the traditional Pan de Sant Jordi - bread made in the colours of the Catalunya Flag.

Pan_de_Sant_JordiPan de Sant Jordi - looked better than it tasted

J needed more coffee for her Nespresso machine, so we popped into the store to replenish her supplies.

Nespresso_Shop_Pg_de_Gracia_BarcelonaNespresso store on Passeig de Gràcia

From the crowds, it would appear that George Clooney has marketed well for the Nespresso brand. All those people are lined up to buy boxes of single shot aluminium capsules of coffee!


Pandabonium said...

Somehow printed roses and blue roses just don't do anything for me, but the dragon-blood-red ones are awesome.
Great pics as always.

Word Verification - notomph: an anti-speeding slogan?

kaya said...

Oh my.
The blue roses are gorgeous. I love the colour blue, and that shade of indigo is my favourite.
The little one would have gone gaga over the Hello Kitty one. She is nuts about Hello Kitty.
Lovely pics nzm.
How are things otherwise. What are the chances of you giving me your
a) skype id
b) phone number??
Been too long since we spoke.

Sandie said...

It is always a pleasure reading your blog, always uplifting and very interesting...

Sandie said...

Hey guys check out Clark Little's photographs on my blog, they are fantastic. I think you are BIG fans of photography! Bye.

Sandie said...

Have you seen any multicouloured roses maybe called happy roses! Incredible! Dutch flower designer Peter Van de Werken created this multi-coloured effect by injecting vegetable dye into flower stalks. The pigment is absorbed and travels to the petals where it changes their hue.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Nice photos. Thanks for posting!

Parv said...

Spain...books...sights and sounds...5DMKII...

yet again, I'm jealous. :)

nzm said...

PB: The reds are my favourites too. Re the word veri - hope that it's not an indication of K's car!

kaya: Hello Kitty is BIG in BCN. There is a shop in the mall opposite us that is dedicated to HK. There are even phone covers! You now have my details!

Sandy: Thanks - and those pics are amazing. I haven't seen happy roses but those blue ones must be either dipped in dye or injected, I'm sure.

DJ: thanks for visiting!

Parv: come on over, I'll let you play with the 5D!

Jayne said...

*very big sigh*
The bike hire was much cheaper in Italy, so we're touring there instead of Spain (*even bigger sigh*)
The pics are fab hon & I really smaak the blue roses - so different.