Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Happy St George's Day!!!

St George's Day is a very special day here in Catalonia. He is the patron saint of Catalonia, although he goes by the name of Sant Jordi rather than Saint George here! It's a beautiful day that focuses on the retelling of the tale of how St George slayed the fearsome dragon just as it was on the verge of munching up a princess, thus saving her and returning her home to her grateful parents. The legend tells that a rose bush grew where the dragon's blood was spilled, and Jordi picked a red rose to hand to the princess. St George's Day has been celebrated in Catalonia as the day of lovers since the fifteenth century, and it is now traditional for men and boys to give a red rose to female loved ones on this day.

23rd April is also the day of the book here. Instated at the beginning of the 20th century to coincide with the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare, and to promote books published in Catalan, it is celebrated as part of St George's Day (La Diada de Sant Jordi), and women and girls give a book to their male loved ones.

The streets are lined with stalls selling roses and books, and crowds gather to stroll around, buy flowers and books for their loved ones, and generally enjoy the festival atmosphere, even though it isn't actually a bank holiday. Schools make a big effort to retell the legend and to celebrate books and reading, and children make different crafts around the knight, dragon, rose theme.

My big bug had to choose a book from home to take in for a book swap with the other children in his class. Hard to do, cos it's a permanent swap. He was keen to choose one of his little brother's books for the event but we eventually came up with one of his own! Tomorrow, each of the little ones is paired up with an older child from higher up the school who will help them choose a new book from those their classmates have brought in. Afterwards, older and younger child will sit down and read the "new" book together. I think it's such a lovely way to enjoy books together, and a great way for an older child to read for a purpose: to help a little one to access a book they don't know. Gorgeous!

I like to mark festivities with a little gift for my bugs' teachers at school/ nursery, just to thank them for the work they do, and also as a good excuse to do a craft with the boys! So tomorrow they'll be taking them some homemade roses to school with them:

Sorry, it's a rubbish photo, but I'm too tired to take any more now :-( Do you get the idea? I'm really into peg crafts at the moment, and wanted to make a paper rose of some description to stick onto the painted peg (tissue paper? shiny paper?), but then M bug came up with the hand print idea, so we went with that. Here are the stages:

Oops, no more photos till the finished product... Well, I cut out the handprints and drew round the edge of each print with a red felt pen. Then I stuck them back to back (left onto right) and tucked one of the tips of the pegs that you squeeze in between the prints (LOADS of glue!):

Although my big bug flatly refused to have his done like that. He wanted the peg pegged onto the handprint rose, like so:

I must confess to finding it hard sometimes to go with it and let them do a craft as they want and not how I have envisaged it, so I did try and talk him round but to no avail. Big Bug's roses are pegged onto their stem and will be given to his teachers tomorrow pegged onto their stem. Little Bug was more malleable, not having any vision of his own in this particular activity. Thank God!


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