Once upon a time there was a nasty dragon who lived in a cave above Barcelona. To keep him happy the locals fed him a virgin every day. (100% of the daily recommended dose). Unfortunately, the townsfolk were rapidly running out of acceptable women and were on the verge of contemplating some sort of Catalan Virgin Import system, when someone suggested they turn to the King for help.
Being a gracious fellow, and clearly not holding out much hope he would marry off his daughter in the near future, he offered her up for the dragon’s next meal. Overjoyed at the King’s total disregard for his untainted offspring, the locals seasoned her, added a few herbs, wrapped her up in tin-foil and dragged her up the mountain.
After baking for 2 hours at gas mark 4, the dragon was just settling down to enjoy this especially tasty snack with a cheeky Rioja, when a brave knight appeared and killed him with his lance. As the shocked and presumably still hungry dragon fell, his blood spilled onto the ground and a rose bush sprung up. The gallant knight then picked a rose from the bush and handed it to the relieved, if slightly basted, Princess, before heading on his way.
The knight was none other than Sant Jordi. (St George in English money) Who thus became the Patron Saint of Catalonia.
Alright, so I might not have got the facts entirely right and quite where books get mixed up in all this is a little hazy. Nevertheless, on the 23rd of April every year Catalonia becomes a frenzy of commercialism, with widespread rose buying for the womenfolk and book purchasing for the chaps.
It may be a strange way to celebrate that heroic act by their Patron Saint, but for country that insists on logs pooing Christmas presents and building towers out of supposedly intelligent humans, it is par for the course!
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