Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sant Jordi and Montblanc

Saint George's day (La Diada de Sant Jordi), also known as the day of the rose (El dia de la Rosa) or the day of the book (El dia del Llibre), is Catalunya valentine's day (El dia de los enamorados, the day of lovers) held on April 23rd. Legend has it that there was a dragon destroying crops and killing stocks and people in Montblanc. The villagers came out with a solution to get the temporary peace by sacrificing a girl everyday to the dragon. One day, the princess was sent to the sacrificial altar as scheduled and a knight, Sant Jordi, rescued her and slaughtered the dragon. The blood of the dragon became red roses and Sant Jordi presented the rose to the princess and they lived happily ever after. Sant Jordi was recognized as a patron saint in Catalunya and his death was memorized by the tradition that men give their lovers a red rose on his death anniversary. The romantic story passed on for centuries and April 23rd is the valentine's day celebrated in Catalunya instead of February 14th. April 23rd is also marked as the world book and copyright day by UNESCO in 1995, given the fact that it is William Shakespeare's death anniversary. A rose to the woman, a book to the man, streets filled with rose and book stalls on April 23rd (especially on La Rambla), and men give a red rose along with a wheat-ear (symbol of fertility) to their lovers and women give their men a book for return. You can feel the influence of Sant Jordi everywhere in Catalunya; Sant Jordi's cross on the flag of Barcelona, the badge of Barcelona football team, the sculpture on the facet of Palau de la Música Catalana and even on the roof of Casa Batllo, Gaudi depicted the story of Sant Jordi slaughtering the dragon.

Sant Jordi day is one of the most important holidays celebrated in Catalunya. On this day, Ayuntamiento de Barcelona and Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya on Placa Sant Jaume in Barcelona are opened to the public. One hundred kilometers away, a medieval festival is held in Montblanc where the legend of Sant Jordi took place. Setmana Medieval de Montblanc is a festival that devotes an entire week to celebrate a variety of events centered on life in medieval Catalunya and the figure of Sant Jordi. The whole town put on medieval costumes, they organized various events such as medieval market where you can see blacksmith forging swords in traditional way, medieval fight, open air performances, medieval parade, Catalan courts and the representation of the legend of Sant Jordi. You can even join the party representing some of the characters like noble, clergy, servant... if you can participate in the whole event and their rehearsals.

There are 5 trains going to Montblanc from Barcelona everyday, the journey takes about 2 hours. Schedule refers to:

1 comment:

Traveling Hawk said...

I didn't know that Sankt Jordi has this meaning in Catalunya. Thanks for sharing this, Hanjie!