I am named for a dragonslayer. Which is pretty cool.
Sant Jordi, known in many languages (George, Giorgio, Jorge, Yuri, Georges), is the patron saint of Catalunya, the north east region of Spain centered on Barcelona. My father emigrated from Spain, from Catalunya in the early 1950s.
Catalunya was its own kingdom in medieval Europe, only merging with greater Spain with the marriage of, yes, that famous pair of Hispanic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. Part of the Spanish civil war, 1936-39, was about the rights of certain linguistic minorities, like Catalans and Basques, to have more autonomy from Madrid and the central government. As I have spent most of my life explaining, Catalan is a separate language, culture, history and identity from the rest of Spain. In Spain, what we call Spanish is called Castellano after the region it originates (Castille, southern Spain). At the end, I made a little sampler of differences in the languages.
Ironically, my very “American” mother, as in from European immigrants but over three hundred years ago and with a god-knows-what admixture of European and maybe (maybe) some indigenous ancestors, was the one who picked my name. My dad, though never ashamed of his origins at all, embraced the US and anglicized (including his name, from Francisco Comas i Vilanova to Frank V. Comas) a fair bit. My mom, so the story goes, in the hospital, thought it would be nice if I had a Catalan name. My dad said the first one that popped into his head- Sant Jordi.
One of the best parts of my name is that since it is the patron saint of Catalunya, my saint day, April 23rd is a big, big deal. For the week leading up to it, there are booksellers all over the city becuase traditionally women give their husbands or lovers a book, and they, ever gallant, give her a rose. What a treat for a book-loving professor! This picture is on las ramblas, the most visited street in Barcelona, in the gothic quarter.
If you speak Spanish, here is a little sample of the differences. My name is Jordi. I was born in the United States, but my father was from Catalunya. I have three children, and one, Elijah, was born in Barcelona.
Si hablas castellano, presento una muestra pequeña de las diferencias. Me llamo Jorge. Nacì en los Estados Unidos, pero mi padre era de Catalunya. Tengo tres niños, y uno, Elijah, fue nacido en Barcelona.
Si parlas castellà, faig un example petit de les diferencies. Em dic Jordi. Vaig naixer en les Estats Units, pero meu pare era de Catalunya. Tinc tres fills, y un, Elijah, va naixer en Barcelona.