Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dragons, roses, books.

Today, April 23, is the Saint George festivity. It is a really important day in Catalonia, as a celebration of love and culture: men give women a rose; women give men a book.

The tradition of books is quite recent. In 1926, a bookseller wanted to commemorate the death of Miguel de Cervantes (23 April 1616) by establishing the "day of the book". He got the idea from England, which had already that festivity because of William Shakespeare's death (also 23 April 1616).

The tradition of roses comes from the middle ages because of the legend of Saint George, that in Catalonia takes place in Montblanc back in the 9th century.

It is said that there was a huge terrible dragon who scared the entire village and ate everything on his way. The villagers offered him cows, sheep... but he hadn't enough; so the king decided that people would be randomly chosen to be given as a sacrifice to the monster. Years went by and the dragon did no harm, as he had food.

One day, fate decided that the young princess should be given to the dragon. Some people tried to replace her, but the king was strict and said that everyone was equal in front of the beast. The princess had no choice and started walking to the dragon's cave. On her way to the cave she came across a young knight in a golden armour. She told him to run away of the dragon, but he replied that she would be saved because he came to fight the beast and liberate the village.

The knight, who was Saing George, hurt the monster with his lance. The dragon fell to the ground with the lance stucked in his heart; suddenly, from the dragon's blood grew a rosebush. Saint George gave the most beautiful rose to the princess as a token of love. The king asked the knight to marry his daughter, but Saint George said nothing, got on his white horse and left town.

(Photo: Saint George icon - Reggio Calabria)

More photos here.

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