Sant Jordi, Barcelona

Plaza Bonanova on Sant Jordi

Yesterday was a very beautiful holiday here in Barcelona: Sant Jordi. It goes back to the legend of the cavalier Jordi that slaughtered a dragon to save a princess. From the dragon’s blood red roses grew and Jordi gave one to the princess. Since then on the April 23rd all men give roses to women. And women give men a book, to never forget the history and the legend.

Since I was a teen I found this holiday wonderful. The city is full of flowers and bookstands, everybody is cheerful, you give and receive roses. Somehow people are very happy. It is spring and there is no better way to feel it than seeing so many smiles and flowers around.

Downtown Barcelona is decorated and beautiful on that day. We did not have a chance to go to the downtown this year. We were busy with the kids, taking them to their Sant Jordi activities. However, we were glad to see that our part of Barcelona was beautiful and full of flowers too. Kids were dressed as princesses and cavaliers on that day, there were theater plays in their respective schools. My son’s daycare held hot chocolate and coca (Catalonia cake with sugar and pine nuts) for the kids and their families. And at our daughter’s art school they had an open-door day, inviting all the families to participate in making roses and decorating the walls with paintings. Here are some pictures from yesterday. It is Sarria / Sant Gervasi area of Barcelona.

Corner of Muntaner and Reus on Sant JordiCorner of Muntaner and Reus streets in Barcelona on the April 23rd

carrer MuntanerMuntaner street close to the plaza Bonanova

Traditional roses sold on Sant JordiSant Jordi red roses

the church on Plaza BonanovaThe church on plaza Bonanova

Pan de la diada, Sant JordiPan de la diada. Catalonian bread for Sant Jordi Holiday. It is made of cheddar and morcilla (blood sausage).

book stands on plaza BonanovaBook stands on the plaza Bonanova

plaza Bonanova and Muntaner streetPlaza Bonanova and Muntaner Street on Sant Jordi

Red roses done by the kids of the Sienna art schoolRed roses from paper and cloth done by the kids at the Siena Art School on Sant Jordi day

Sant Jordi mural in Sienna Art schoolSant Jordi mural done by the kids at the Siena Art School on Sant Jordi

Red roses painted on the wall at Sienna art schoolThe last roses of the day were the ones painted by the kids on the walls of the Siena Art School.

This was one beautiful day of spring! And the festivities are going on for the rest of the week. It feels like every day is a holiday in Barcelona.

Between Love and Selfishness

Red roses on Sant Jordi

When we talk about love a lot of times it comes down about satisfying one’s needs. Yeap, in the down to earth approach people are looking to satisfy their needs and desires. They want to hear nice words, receive gifts, be treated like someone special, be the one and the only, be respected, be comforted, be assured. In one word be loved.

This is not love. This is selfishness. And it is completely opposite to what love is.

Love in its essence is giving. Is the ability to give, to be generous, not to expect anything in return. To love is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable over and over again, even if the other deceives us. To love is to hope. It is to hope that what we give will be accepted and appreciated. It is not about the hope to receive the same gifts in return. Love is never fair. This is why it is wonderful. It is our amazing ability to hope beyond our rationality. And as the life shows, this hope is stronger and more powerful than any rational thoughts or acts. Real love always wins (if one can use the word win here). You just have to ask yourself if what you feel is love (i.e. an impulse to give) or is it a desire to satisfy your needs, to validate your feeling and to get the same in return. These are the two ends of the same line. You have to figure out where you stand. Is it 80/20 or 50/50 or 20/80? The greater is the first number the happier you will be, as the first one depends totally on you.

This morning started at 6am with my son and daughter running around the house. They were excited to give roses to their teachers and friends. It is the Sant Jordi Holiday in Catalonia. As the legend says on that day a cavalier named Jordi slaughtered a dragon to save a princess. From the dragon’s blood red roses grew and Jordi gave one to the princess. Since then, every year on the April 23rd the men give red roses to the women. Not just to the women they are in love with or married to, but to many women that are part of their lives. And women give men a book (sometimes), to remind them of the legend and the cavaliers. It is a beautiful tradition, because it is based on giving. My 3 year old son jumped his way to the daycare with two red roses in his hands. One for his teacher and one for his 2 year old friend Paula. He was extremely happy all the way there and he was extremely shy when he gave the roses to the ladies. It is ok to be shy. This is what to be a cavalier means, to do good things to others even if you are shy or afraid or unsure. As parents I feel we should learn to give with love. This is the only way our children will be able to do so too.

Love (and giving) shows itself in small details, in our everyday life. It is not always easy to practice it. A lot of times we do not notice where we could give, we are too busy, too shy, too self-conscious, too rational. We also have to protect ourselves from the outside world, from others, and we wear our “street” clothing (our selfish selves) with a great smile and encouraging greetings.  We become waterproof. We are aware of our needs and desires more than we are of love and giving.

Once I take my waterproof jacket off, I know that there is one single feeling that is able to illuminate me from inside. It is also the most important thing is life Love.

Note: As the author of this post, I have to add that this very morning I have been mean at least six times and more that I do not remember. To love and to give is not simple at all, it is natural for us to be selfish, but I think we should try to be better when we have a chance and can. If you consciously realize that you can change somebody’s day by giving (a smile, a rose, a nice word, an orange, a gift, some help), then do not shy away, do it! Sort of as a monthly experiment! I will do so too.