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The Catalan Saint Valentine

Tomorrow is St Jordi and for the people that doesn’t know what it means we are going to explain everything (everything…!) about him. St Jordi is the patron of Catalonia and many other places, because Jordi is the Catalan name for George. For all the English people, I should stop writing, but not everybody is English and not everybody knows who is St George.

So, let’s start with the legend: the mother of all legends: a princess, a knight and a dragon. A dragon menaces with chaos and destruction to a kingdom if the King doesn’t give away his daughter (the princess). The King in the depths of desperation and sorrow cries for help and a knight, exclaiming “Behold!” silhouettes in the doorway. The King points the cave where the modest but capricious dragon lies, a cave in the bowel of the mountain, over a hill of golden coins (terribly wrong invested, I must say), and the knight (yes, this is our guy, the good fancy Jordi and his tremendously good-looking, but anonymous, white horse) rides untiredly with his sword over his head, shining under the light of the sun like a flame. Once there, he crawls the cave, and confront the dragon avoiding his flaming breath, until the last chance is there. A growl points out that the sword has stabbed the dragon heart. Jordi recovers his sword and a fountain of blood emerges from the deadly wound to the floor. As the dragon slowly dies, a thorny rose tree fully bloomed grows from the puddle of blood. The prince takes a red rose and gives it to the princess adding: “Don’t look at the corpse, my dear, it’s rude and gross”.

By his act of bravery St Jordi was named guardian of Catalonia and after his death (and a tedious paperwork that his sons will relate properly if you ask them) he was named saint too and patron of Catalonia and many more places. In Catalonia is tradition that every men (that includes children), in the day of St Jordi, buys and gives a rose as a present to his sweetheart, because every men is a knight in the eyes of her loved one.

Actually St. Jordi takes a different colour depending the age you are. When you are 5 you just want to buy a rose to your perfect rosy-cheeked teacher, when you are 12 (and you want to be the most popular girl in the class) you pray to be the girl with more roses and when you are in your 20’s… well, then you just hope your stupid boyfriend will remember which day it is.

Is a tradition too that every women, in the day of St. Jordi, buys and gives as a book as a present to his loved one, because women don’t have enough with a knight, they want poets too. And when you are a boy and St. Jordi comes you just expect your girlfriend will buy you a zombie comic (and that keeps not happening).

So don’t be shy tomorrow and buy a rose, a book or both of them to your loved one. And believe me, if you are not carrying one of them you will look very, very (and that’s two very’s) awkward in the metro.

One last tip, if you want to really live this day and enjoy it, best places are Rambla Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia. Just walk through these long streets and smell one of the favourite days of each living Catalan.

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