Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dia de Sant Jordi

Today is perhaps the most civilized day on the Christian calendar, the feast day of Saint George, or as it is known is Catalunya, "El Dia de Sant Jordi" aka "El dia del llibre" or "The Day of the Book." It is traditional on this day to give gifts of roses to women and books to men, although it has become ever more common to give books to everybody. This tradition inspired UNESCO to declare this the International Day of the Book, since April 23 1616 was also the date of death of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. All throughout Barcelona today, and all across Catalunya, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are lining the streets for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 400,000 books will have been purchased. Fully one half of the total yearly book sales in Catalunya take place on this occasion.
I don't fool myself about the value of literature over candy in America, but I would gladly surrender any Valentine's Day obligations for the sanity of a national Book Day.

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