In mid-March we all held our breath when we heard the news that the Catalan booksellers’ guild was to postpone the Sant Jordi celebrations to a date that was yet to be determined. As painful and strange as it is for so many Catalans who rank April 23 among their favourite festivals, this coming April 23, for the first time in decades, we won’t bear witness to floods of people in the streets, the ritual exchange of roses and explosion of love in all corners of Catalonia. Although the festival as we know it is postponed, booksellers and florists, the sectors most affected by the decision, know better than anyone that April 23 still holds a special place in our hearts and that there is always a way to celebrate while complying with current restrictions. To that end, booksellers have promoted campaigns such as ‘Llibreries Obertes’ (Open Bookshops, website in Catalan) to minimize the economic effects of customers staying at home, and florists present their initiative, ‘La Rosa de Sant Jordi a Casa’ (Sant Jordi Roses at Home).
Roses at home
The website (in Catalan) features a map (click the button ‘Mapa floristeries’) where you can locate your closest florist, and it currently lists over a hundred throughout Catalonia, a number that is expected to grow as April 23 nears. The florists’ guild sells an average of 7 million roses each year, while the forecasts for 2020 are to reach some 300,000 roses sold (only 15 percent are produced locally), which does not even come to 5 percent of the usual sales. The guild are aware this is not a profitable campaign, but say that's not the point. ‘More than ever, roses communicate emotion and empathy in difficult times for everyone,’ says the president, Joan Guillén.
Balconies are the stars of the show
Those lucky enough to have a terrace or a balcony these days appreciate them more than ever. In Barcelona and other cities and towns across the country, flat-dwellers come out to their balcony every evening to applaud healthcare workers, and they even set out to cheer up their neighbours with impromptu concerts. The florists’ and booksellers’ guilds also want to take advantage of the time we’re spending appreciating our outdoor spaces these days with their ‘Sant Jordi als Balcons’ (Sant Jordi on the Balconies) campaign. The idea is to get the kids involved and have them decorate your space with drawings of dragons, roses, stories or book covers they’ve made. If you snap a photo of the festive decor and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #santjordialsbalcons, you’ll be entered into a contest to win a batch of children’s books courtesy of the booksellers’ guild.