I tell you with all the pain in my heart: in this matter, Barcelona beats you.
You see, I’m not a purebred “cat”, rather “Catalan”, a word I use to explain that I am a mixture of a Catalan mother and a Madrid father. This means that I have spent years living the traditions of (what seem to me) two very different cities: I have danced chotis with a white carnation on my head and the caganer He has been doing his needs in my manger since I can remember. That is why (and because I am a bookworm) that I live April 23rd, Book Day and Sant Jordi Day with such passion.
Even when I was quite old, I believed that giving a rose or a book to your lover or someone close to you was also done here, but the reality was disappointing. In Barcelona they celebrate their passion for letters in style. The boulevards are filled with rose sellers and that day in the metro there are more noses glued to a book than to the smartphone screen. It is impossible not to walk down the street without hearing a voice explaining the legend of how the brave Saint George killed a dragon, from whose blood a rose bush was born.
Here, in Madrid, there is an event known as The night of the books which (I admit) does not look bad. This year it is ten years old and it will be celebrated with more interest. National and international authors will give lectures in the various public libraries of the capital; there will be music, poetry, workshops, discussions, gymkhanas… It says it’s at night but it really starts in the afternoon, so there’s no excuse not to take half an hour to go through the more than 600 activities organized by the City Council.
But for those with Catalan blood like me, that’s not enough. We need more, and it’s not enough for us to buy the rose from one of those vendors who wear ten hats of lights and make a very annoying noise with their mouths. He Blanquerna Cultural Center celebrate these days the Week of Catalan Culture And, yes, they will give roses to customers who purchase a book from their offer of Catalan authors. The downside is that this site is impossible to find, no matter how many Google Maps there are (it took me half an hour to find it).
I regret to tell you that you do not know what you are missing; You are unaware of the illusion that comes from knowing that on April 23 someone is going to give you a book, an adventure that will last days and weeks. You have activities, but not the right attitude. My advice is that this week you go to a corner of Catalonia (it doesn’t have to be Barcelona) and we give them the credit of surpassing ourselves in celebrating their love of reading.
Photograph 1: Javier Rubín Grassa
Photograph 2: Raquel Núñez Gil