Once upon a time, there was a Catalan village which lived frightened by a fierce dragon. The villagers realized that the only way to appease his hunger was offering people to him as food. The first person chosen by lot was the lovely and kindly princess, to everyone’s sadness. Once she arrived in front of the dragon’s cave to sacrifice herself, a brave knight appeared. He was the noble Saint George. He killed the dragon with his spear and freed the village. The legend told that from the blood of the dragon a red rose was born, and the knight offered it to the beautiful princess before leaving to live more adventures riding on his white horse.
Since then, on April 23th, Saint George’s day or in catalan Sant Jordi, in Catalonia the tradition is to celebrate it giving to your girl a red rose and a book to your boy (or both things of course) because the 23th is also the World Book day.
As a Catalan, I specially love this tradition and I enjoy very much walking around the streets this spring day. In Catalonia it is our particular Valentine’s Day (and healthier, flowers and books instead of chocolate candies! I do not mean that a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt because I love it, as well!). Besides, it is a day to claim the Catalan culture and many balconies are adorned with the Catalonia’s flag. It is very nice to see.
Now, you must be thinking what all this has to do with sustainability… So, here it goes. Nowadays, more and more schools and other cultural organizations in Catalonia are starting to celebrate an alternative and sustainable Sant Jordi or Saint George’s day the day before. Under the motto “a different and sustainable Sant Jordi“, they meet up to exchange books, normally used books which you have at home and have already read. In 2005, this experience was awarded by “Acció 21” Barcelona program. This program consists of a network of companies and organizations under the Citizien Commitment to Sustainability’s signature. They assume the responsibility for building a more sustainable Barcelona city and each company contribute within its scope.
So, I personally applaud this initiative for this Book day. It is a great example of social sustainability. It provides equity and social cohesion to everyone. It is aimed to people who cannot afford buying new books, to people who wants to provide the same opportunities to others, to people who want to socialize with their community and all together build a better and healthier society.
I’m not saying that you don’t have to buy new books which you’re eager to read (writers have to eat, as well). However, it is very good to know that you always have the possibility to exchange your old books and make you and other people happy.