Today, April 23rd, Catalonia celebrates its best holiday ever. I think in previous years I failed, somehow, to explain what St. George Day means to us, and how proud we are of it. This time I'll try to keep it simple. On this day, our Patron's Saint day, we Catalans exchange books and roses with each other. It's like our own Valentine's Day. Every bookstore puts a stall at the nearest square, avenue, or free space on the sidewalk, and florists sell roses on the streets too.
According to Wikipedia, roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23rd April 1616.
This year, it is expected that seven million roses (one at a time) and one and a half million books (a sum equal to 8% of annual turnover) will be sold on this day. There are many book signings and book launches on Sant Jordi, and many roses are sold to support charities.
Although it is in fact a working day, people fill the streets from morning to night and the atmosphere is festive and cheerful. If you ever plan to visit Barcelona, and want to see this city at its best, I strongly recommend you make your trip coincide with Sant Jordi Day, and take a walk through the Rambla.
Manel is the most successful Catalan band in recent years. Having released only two albums, they have become popular for lyrics telling everyday stories, a simple and effective instrumentation, and the personality of each of the four components. It's nothing new, yet they're fresh, witty and funny. No wonder they chose "Common People" by Pulp to cover live in concert. "La gent normal" has been named the best Catalan version of an international song by the readers of Ara, a Catalan newspaper. I hope you enjoy it.
Mona: [Catalan word first documented in 1507 — not to be confused with Monna Lisa, where 'Monna' is a common contraction of the Italian madonna (lady), nor with the Catalan word of identical spelling meaning 'monkey' (from which it follows that in Catalan 'Monna Lisa' may sound like 'Monkey Lisa')]from the Latin mŭnda, neuter plural of mŭndum, 'decorated basket full of items (especially cakes) offered in April to Ceres [in Roman mythology, the goddess of agriculture, crops and fertility].' Meaning: Cakeusually decorated with hard boiled eggs or chocolate eggs, eaten by Easter (whence follows that in Catalan 'Monna Lisa' may sound as well like 'Easter Cake Lisa'), although these chocolate eggs may actually be eaten before Easter, at least at my home, thus the lack of chocolate in my mother's mona, above.
Source: Enciclopèdia Catalana, with last-minute amendments by myself.