This past Sant Jordi was once again a great day, but the storm and its consequences left us with a few homework for the future. That it is a great party does not mean that it cannot be improved, and here are some reflections and proposals.
Sant Jordi is indestructible
Perhaps we do not realize that of all the great events that are celebrated in our country, only one has the capacity to mobilize millions of people without the need for any marketing campaign. Is a unique popular festival in the worldwhich has become an inescapable tradition, as evidenced by the thousands of people who, even in the rain or hail, stoically endured the rain: I witnessed how an 85-year-old woman endured a very long queue without an umbrella, for more than an hour, every inclement weather under an apocalyptic storm only to have the signature, and above all the affection, of Pablo Iglesias.
Despite the bad weather, the day demonstrated the success of the initiative of the ‘superilla’ of Sant Jordi. The experience of cutting off the vast majority of the central streets of the Eixample for the first time made it possible to accommodate the large influx of people and facilitated movement on foot. The traffic jams that occurred in some areas of Passeig de Gràcia before the pandemic caused the bookstores to become inoperative at some points. In addition, associating a festival such as Sant Jordi with the new mobility that prioritizes the pedestrian above car is smart and good for everyone. What should be improved is the speed of evacuation in the event of a storm or accident, but what is evident is that the ‘superilla’ no longer has a way back.
There are those who, a posteriori, have regretted that Barcelona did not have sheltered alternatives in case of bad weather. Whoever says this seems to be unaware that there can be no indoor area that can act as a bookstore for millions of people eager to buy books in a few hours. But the fact is that, in addition, the festival of Sant Jordi has been conceived to be enjoyed outside, and the walk is consubstantial to the act of buying books and roses. For this reason, rather than modify the nature of the festival, it seems more sensible, in future editions, to provide more solid tents or to have insurance taken out to compensate for the losses of wet books (as all peasants do, for example).
Sant Jordi without discount?
When, more than fifty years ago, Sant Jordi was still a tender and unconsolidated festival, it was understood why the 10% discount was necessary. The price stimulus it helped during the first decades that people took ownership of this tradition. But currently it is very difficult to justify: does anyone imagine that on December 24 the pastry shops would get together to lower the price of Jijona nougat? This year, for example, part of the damaged books could have been compensated if the 10% discount had not been applied, which is assumed by booksellers and publishers in equal parts. At this point, it is hardly defensible that the purchase motivation on this special day is the price.
Sant Jordi in a single day?
For many years, there has been a discussion between those who want to turn Sant Jordi day into a Sant Jordi week and those who advocate not touching what already works. However, the losses caused by the gale invite reflection, and perhaps a midpoint would be to convert Sant Jordi 2023 (which falls on a Sunday) into the Sant Jordi weekend, and thus take advantage of the infrastructure for the day before, Saturday. This would allow minimizing the risks generated by bad weather. It seems more and more unaffordable to put all the eggs in the weather of a single day.
Sant Jordi can evolve
That Sant Jordi is indestructible does not mean that it cannot improve. For example, reflect on whether the booksellers, who are the ones who really know how to sell, they must have even more and better space: one idea would be for the bookstores to gain square meters, to keep the space on Passeig de Gràcia and for the publishers to occupy other streets. For example, better organize the queues of the authors’ signatures: the accumulated experience should serve to prevent authors who generate large queues from blocking the little public that the more modest ones have. Or, for example, modernize and unify the labeling of the tents to give an even more careful image.