Saint George’s Day Book and Flower Fair moved to July
Saint George is not just the patron of England – among the other regions and countries where the mythical dragon-slayer is celebrated on April 23rd is Catalunya, where he is known as Sant Jordi and his ‘day’ normally fills the streets with book and flower stalls.
The former marks International Book Day, which also falls on April 23rd as this was the date, in 1616, when Don Quijote author Miguel de Cervantes and British poet and playwright William Shakespeare died. In practice, Cervantes passed away aged 69, 10 days before Shakespeare, who was just 52. Although the dates are both recorded as April 23rd 1616, England was still using the Julian calendar, whilst Spain had already moved onto the Gregorian calendar, the one used in most of the world today.
Long-standing tradition has it that on SantJordi’s Day in Catalunya, people would give their partners or spouses a rose. The two events combined eventually and it is now customary to buy your loved one a flower and a book on Sant Jordi’s Day. About six million red and yellow roses are sold in just one day in the north-eastern region and many towns would have open-air flower and book stalls on the street. The most famous Sant Jordi fair is in Barcelona, where top national and international authors sign their books. Siri Hustvedt and Marian Keyes have been among them in recent years.
With Spain in lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the entire country’s festival calendar has been moved and Sant Jordi will be celebrated on July 23rd. Cancelling it altogether would not only cause massive disappointment, but also put paid to a large slice of florists’ and book shops’ annual income, since they make several months’ worth of profits on that one day.
‘Social distancing’ will still probably be in force in mid-July, even though quarantine is expected to be over, but book sellers and florists have guaranteed they will take steps to protect the public’s safety. Even though this spring is likely to be hard on florists, it could be that they actually end up having a bumper year. It is estimated that, even if some opt to sell flowers online, they will not shift even a quarter as many as they usually do on April 23rd, so it is likely that those who had been looking forward to the usual street fair will enter the July one with renewed enthusiasm.
Moving fiestas to later in the year may seem unprecedented, but is in fact nothing new in Spain. Many festival organisers hold ‘half-year’ versions such medio año, or in Catalunya and the Valencia region, mig any, which are a low-key repeats of the event on the six-month anniversary. About a decade ago, for the first time in its history, the nationally-popular pre-Lent Carnival in the Alicante-province village of Pego was rained off, leaving revellers devastated. Pego town council opted to hold it in summer instead and this has since become known as the Mig Any Carnestoltes and continues to be held to this day in addition to the main event on the last Saturday night before the start of Lent.
Vuelta A España Could Be Late October Or November
The Tour de France has been postponed from August 29th to September 20th, which will set the entire race calendar back and the Aigle Martigny World Championship will start in Switzerland on the day the Tour de France finishes.
After this comes the Giro d’Italia, the first major cycling race to be called off in 2020 due to the Coronavirus crisis. A new date for La Vuelta has not been released, although the UCI will need to carry out a fine balancing act to ensure the The Giro and La Vuelta do not clash.
Mobile World Congress To Stay In Barcelona Until At Least 2024
The Mobile World Congress will continue to be held in Barcelona until at least the year 2024, confirm organisers GSMA.
Probably the planet’s largest and most up-to-date new technology and communications trade fair, the Mobile World Congress has been based in Barcelona for many years and for the first time ever, 2020 saw it cancelled. At the time – mid-February – Covid-19 had not reached Spain, other than one confirmed case on the Canarian island of La Gomera where a German tourist had caught the condition from a Chinese woman in Munich and was immediately isolated. Everyone who had come into contact with him was quarantined, as were 21 Spaniards repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan where the first cases of the ‘new’ strain of the Coronavirus were detected.
The decision to call off the February 2020 Mobile World Congress (MWC) was purely practical. After an initial handful of corporations based in China and due to exhibit in Barcelona opted not to travel in order not to risk spreading the virus to Europe, numerous others – not just on the Asian continent but also in Europe and the USA – decided to follow their example. With Ericsson, Rakuten, Nokia, Amazon, Facebook, Sony, Cisco, Intel, LG, Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, BT, AT&T and NTT Docomo all having pulled out, the MWC would have been left largely empty and the management decided it was pointless to proceed. GSMA said it would start working immediately on the MWC 2021, getting ahead for next February. They have now confirmed the trade fair is set to stay in Barcelona long term, despite concerns a couple of years ago that it may be considering not renewing the contract due to the political unsettlement caused by the attempted Catalunya independence referendum.
A new deal has been signed guaranteeing the MWC will be held in Barcelona until the year 2024 inclusive, although GSMA says this is ‘at the very least’, since its current intention is to continue renewing the contract indefinitely.
Even though this year’s cancellation has been a blow to Barcelona, especially local businesses who were expecting the mass influx of visitors, particularly wealthy ones from other continents, to bring them in plenty of extra trade, the fact that it is safe for the next four years at least is good news for the city. This year’s event would have brought in nearly half a billion euros to the city alone and created 14,100 temporary jobs. Next year’s event will take place between March 1st and 4th, in the usual venues – the ‘Fira de Barcelona‘, sites in the Montjuïc area and on the Gran Via de L’Hospitalet.
The MWC accounts for around 30% of Fira de Barcelona’s annual income.
Its visitors are mostly corporate, although some time slots are open to the general public and is a fascinating insight into just how far the imagination can take technology and to what extent it can make all areas of life easier, not just the world of work, but right down to the health service, farming, cooking and cleaning.