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Huge crowds celebrate love and culture in Catalonia

The festivity of Sant Jordi, one of the most romantic and anticipated days of the year for many Catalans, was a success. Hundreds of thousands of people headed to the streets this Saturday in search of a book and a rose for their loved ones. Barcelona was particularly crowded, but so were the other capitals of Catalonia, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, and all the small towns and villages of the country. Late in the afternoon, the rain slightly hampered the celebration in parts of the country, especially in the north. Book sellers and florists, however, were satisfied with expected sales of about 1.5 million books and around 5.5 million roses. Sant Jordi was also a great occasion for readers to meet their favourite authors, who took part in different book signings. In Barcelona, where the most famous authors were, but also in other cities, there were long queues for a signature. The bestseller in Catalan was 'La filla del capità Groc', by Víctor Amela.

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23 April 2016 08:27 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The festivity of Sant Jordi, one of the most romantic and anticipated days of the year for many Catalans, was this Saturday a success. Hundreds of thousands of people headed to the streets in search of a book and a rose for their loved ones. Barcelona was particularly crowded, but so were the other capitals of Catalonia: Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, and all the small towns and villages of the country. Late in the afternoon, the rain slightly hampered the celebration in parts of the country, especially in the north. Book sellers and florists, however, were satisfied with expected sales of about 1.5 million books and around 5.5 million roses. Sant Jordi was also a great occasion for readers to meet their favourite authors, who took part in different book signings. In Barcelona, where the most famous authors were, but also in other cities, there were long queues for a signature. The bestseller in Catalan was 'La filla del capità Groc', by Víctor Amela. 

 


Sant Jordi’s is about much more than just Catalonia’s patron saint, it is a medieval tradition which merges love and literature and which has gained international recognition. Each year, people flock to the streets full of stalls selling books and roses, as traditionally on Sant Jordi’s Day men presented their lovers with roses, while women gave their lovers a book in return. Today, both men and women give roses and books to their friends, family, and partners as a way to celebrate love and literature. Since 1995, when UNESCO recognised the 23rd of April as World Book Day, the festival has gained a growing number of celebrators around the world. More than 130 cities over 40 countries have planned some 100 activities or more throughout the week and well into the first days of May.

Official figures indicate that 5.5 million roses have been sold in Catalonia during the 2016 Sant Jordi campaign, according to the florist association of Catalonia. This is around 15% less than last year. Nonetheless, the president of the association, Joan Guillén, said they are “very happy”. Many people bought their flowers already on Friday, when many schools and business celebrated Sant Jordi. 

Up to 30 different varieties of roses both native to Catalonia and imported from countries like Ecuador, Colombia, and the Netherlands were being sold. Whatever the origin and variety of the flower, one classic colour continued to be the most sold: 80% of the roses sold on Sant Jordi’s are usually red. The preference is certainly not for lack of other choices: among other options for gift-givers, there are a variety of colours ranging from white to yellow, pink to orange, coloured, dyed, or marbled. 

‘La filla del capità Groc’, by Víctor Amela, bestseller in Catalan

The book ‘La filla del capità Groc’, by journalist and television critic Víctor Amela, was this year’s Sant Jordi bestseller in Catalan language. The novel explains the real history and adventures of Tomàs Peñarrocha, also known as the Groc Forcall, who fought against the liberals in the area of Maestrazgo during the two Carlist Wards. The novel was recently recognised with a Ramon Llull award, the highest honour for Catalan literatura. The second most sold book was ‘Tot això ho faig perquè tinc molta por’, by Empar Moliner, while the third was the Catalan translation of the international bestseller ‘The Girl on the Train’, by British author Paula Hawkins.

In non-fiction, the bestseller in Catalan was ‘Confessions d’un culer defectuós’, by Sergi Pàmies, followed by ‘Educar Millor’, by Carles Capdevila, and ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, by Marie Kondo. 

‘The Girl on the Train’, bestseller in Spanish

The Spanish translation of the English novel ‘The Girl on the Train’ was this year’s bestseller in Spanish language, followed by ‘Historia de un canalla’, by Julia Navarro, and ‘Los besos en el pan’, by Almudena Grandes. In non-fiction, the most sold book in Spanish was ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, by Marie Kondo. ‘La magia del orden’ by Risto Mejide and ‘AuronPlay, el libro’, were the second and third most sold non-fiction books in Spanish language. 

1.5 million books sold last Sant Jordi’s Day

For booksellers and those in the publishing industry, the 23rd of April isn’t just a holiday celebrating Sant Jordi, it’s a holiday celebrating major book sales. In 2015, the Catalan Booksellers Guild reported that 1.5 million books had been sold, showing an increase of 4% from the sales in 2014 and bringing in €19.2 million during the festival weekend.

As regards individual titles, 43,070 were sold on Sant Jordi’s Day in 2015, almost twice as many as in 2014 (22,571). From those, 10,319 were fiction, 17,348 were non-fiction and 15,402 were books for children and young adult books. 

Based on trends from 2015, Catalan book lovers are expected to buy more than one book to share with their loved ones this Sant Jordi, and these books may be from more varied genres than in years past. 

This year’s predicted top-sellers cover everything from ways to tidy up and organise your home to psychological thrillers and romance novels and come from Catalan authors like Víctor Amela and Empar Moliner as well as popular international authors like Paula Hawkins and Colm Tóibín.

Puigdemont: “Take full advantage of this day and enjoy it”

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, said during his speech on the occasion of Sant Jordi that the festivity is an opportunity to have the voices of the Catalans “heard and respected”, and he urged to achieve this through “arguments, proposals, dialogue and understanding”. Puigdemont described Sant Jordi as “one of the most anticipated days of the year in Catalonia and one of the most beautiful and enjoyable to experience” and invited “everyone, people from here and from abroad, to enjoy it in person”. “Take full advantage of this day and enjoy it with happiness, civility and respect for everyone!”, he added, in a televised speech. Puigdemont visited the stalls selling books and roses in Barcelona with his wife and two daughters and was greeted by many citizens. 

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  • A woman buys roses in a stall in Girona during the 2016 festivity of Sant Jordi (by ACN)
  • Readers trying to find a book in a stall in Barcelona during Sant Jordi (by ACN)
  • Street full of book stalls and roses in Tarragona, on Sant Jordi's Day (by ACN)
  • People trying to find a book during St Jordi in Barcelona (by ACN)
Huge crowds celebrate love and culture in Catalonia