This is a shorter post (I wish I had more time, to share ALL the stories I heard!) with, alas, no photos.
Teresa is a retired schoolteacher from Barcelona; she’s determined to improve her English because her daughter and grandchildren live in Dubai. She wants to visit them often to help out and take care of the children, but needs to speak English there to be useful.
All the Spaniards had to give presentations at the end of the program, and Teresa talked to me about her topic: the St. George’s Day rituals in Barcelona. If I understood correctly, St. George is the patron saint of Catalunya. His “day” is April 23 – the anniversary of the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes (both in 1616) – also Shakespeare’s birthdate.
The day is celebrated by an exchange of gifts – originally between men and women, but now also between parents & children. The men give the women roses, the women give the men books. On April 23, rose sellers abound on the streets and sell thousands of roses. Booksellers also set up stalls and sell thousands of books. One suspects the giving of books relates to the fact that it is the anniversary of the deaths of two of the world’s greatest writers.
In the schools, each child is invited to bring a book, no longer needed at home, and put it on a special table set up for the day. The older students then arrange the donated books by age category and each student gets to choose a book to take home.
According to Teresa, it is a truly wonderful day in Barcelona, where everyone is in the giving mode, the men gallantly presenting roses, the women responding with books. It is full springtime, the days are getting longer, and everyone is happy and excited. So if you are planning a trip to Barcelona, think about getting there by April 23!