23 d´abril: Diada de Sant Jordi
Hi havia una vegada…
(Once upon a time…)
“Once upon a time” is how one begins to tell – not to explain, but to tell - a story that will make you believe in magic. “Once upon a time” coming out of your grandparents mouth, means that you need to hurry up and get a seat – or to seat on their lap, to cross your legs like a Buddha on the floor, or to lay still in bed. Something is about to happen.
Escolta amb atenció (listen carefully)
Aaah! Heart pumping.
l heard this story the first time from la meva yaya (my grandmother), while she sat at the kitchen table, peeling potatoes.
She was my fathers mother.
l remember she was very different from my other grandmother. Elegant, graceful and beautiful also, but this one was tall, big, strong. l remember the big pearls on her earlobes. l remember she didnt look at my eyes when she told stories – as if it hurted to tell. l remember bread with butter and chocolate powder – el berenar (snack between meals) on Saturdays.
Elvira had more balls than a prairie full of bulls. She once felt in love with François – this Catalan punk with French roots, un roig (a communist) who was as much a political trouble maker as he was a real hero. François had clean up “Spanish” blood off his hands more then once, and at some point he got beated up and killed by la Guardia Civil. Elvira took personal revenge and killed herself the man who took her love one away. Just like that. People got to be afraid of her… She had collons (Catalan balls).
Some time later Elvira found Josep, a nice and kind guy, who took care of her and her daughter and with whom she had 2 kids. Elvira refused for ever to get married, not because she didnt love Josep, but because she had to make a point. A point directed to the Spanish church and the local authorities.
Elvira was a proud Catalan woman.
Jo també sóc catalana (I am also Catalan)
Elvira, my “more-balls-then-a-bull-grandma”, was the first one to tell me the story of Sant Jordi.
Hi havia una vegada...
Once upon a time, in some little place in Catalunya, this dragon appeared and made his nest on the springs that brought water to the town. The people there had to fool him every day to get water from the spring, offering him a human sacrifice. The dragon – not an idiot – demanded that the sacrifice was a virgin, and one by one, all the virgins from the village ended on the dragons faces. The last virgin left was, of course, the kings daughter. The king had sent to kill the dragon with his best knights and soldiers, but they, one by one, also failed. Desperate and devastated, the king surrended the princess.
Once day this Jordi guy arrived at the village. He was no soldier, no knight – he was just a punk like François. He had nothing. He didnt come from a “good” family nor had a “surname”. He was a nobody. He told the king he would rescue the princess.
So this Jordi goes to the nest and challenges the dragon. The dragon knows his destiny and opposes absolutely no resistance.
“Something is off” thinks Jordi.
The princess is crying. Her eyes show no fear, but pain. She looks at the dragon with tenderness, with love. Her hand shakes as she approaches her fingers to her lips, kisses them and blows a kiss full of salt to the dragon. The dragon shivers, receiving that precious gift. The dragon is in love with the princess. The princess is in love with the dragon.
“Something is really off”
The dragon looks at Jordi, looks at the princess, advances one step ahead and offers his broad chest to his enemy. After a second of hesitance, Jordi lifts his sword, aims to the left side and crosses dragons heart in a single stroke.
A threat of blood descends slowly from the chest wound, like unsure of abandoning the body. One little drop, the very first one, splashes timidly the ground. The princess cries. Jordi cries also – he stands there, with a bloody sword and a sense that this wasn´t supposed to end like this. They look at each other, they look at the dragon, they look at the first droplet of blood, where now is growing a red rose bud.
TODAY, APRIL 23rd, WE CATALANS CELEBRATE “LA DIADA DE SANT JORDI”
Today we celebrate el día dels enamorats (the lover´s day), today we celebrate LOVE.
Today men will give one single red rose and one wheat branch to the women they love – espouses, mothers, friends… One red rose as a symbol of love, and one wheat branch as a symbol of Christianity – the bread of the world.
Today women will give a book to the men they love, as a symbol of the continuation of the Catalan culture.
La meva yaya knew this story had many stories, many different political, religious and cultural connotations. She knew, but she never cared about that. She just was telling a story.
Hi havia una vegada… (Once upon a time…)