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Sant Jordi book-and-flower fair a success despite downpours
By thinkSPAIN Team Tue, Apr 23, 2019
PERSISTENT rain did not stop the crowds turning out today (Tuesday) for the massive book-and-flower fairs across Catalunya to mark the region's patron saint, Sant Jordi - better known to the English as St George.
By far the biggest Sant Jordi fair takes place every year in Barcelona, where national and international authors sign copies of their works on street stalls and in book shops, and both of these retailers offer a huge selection at discounted prices.
Florists also earn more than on practically any other day of the year, selling red and yellow roses on stands in the street.
Tradition dictates that on Sant Jordi's Day - San Jorge in Castilian Spanish - members of the public give a flower or a book to their sweethearts, or sometimes both if they are feeling generous.
It is also International Book Day, or Dia Internacional del Llibre in the Catalán language, because April 23, 1616 was the date upon which two of the world's greatest, and earliest, literary figures died: British playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and Spain's playwright and novelist Miguel de Cervantes, who penned the globally-famous Don Quijote de la Mancha.
In practice, although they died on the same date, it was not the same day: Cervantes passed away 10 days before Shakespeare, because Spain was already using the Gregorian calendar, in use in the west today, whilst Britain was still on the Julian calendar.
Famous authors who have held book-signings at the Sant Jordi fair in Barcelona include British historian Mary Beard, Norwegian-American crime writer Siri Hustvedt, and prolific Irish chick-lit novelist Marian Keyes.
This year's turnout, despite constant rainfall which was, at times, torrential, was still high and, as usual, a hit with tourists and locals.
Being an election year and also with Catalunya at the centre of a separatist struggle, books by and about politicians and politics flew off the shelves, and like last year, whilst red roses remained the most popular, sales of yellow ones soared as this is the colour associated with the regional government figureheads who have been in jail since November 2017 for their role in holding an independence referendum not recognised by the State.
Also, feminist books - fiction, history, essays and self-help - were more popular than ever, stallholders say.
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