I am named for a dragonslayer.  Which is pretty cool.

Sant Jordi in the Plaça de Tarongers in the Generalitat- the gvernor´s mansion for Catalunya.  This is only open to the public one day a year... April 23rd.
Sant Jordi in the Plaça de Tarongers in the Generalitat- the gvernor´s mansion for Catalunya. This is only open to the public one day a year… April 23rd.

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.

DIa de Sant Jordi in Barcelona.
DIa de Sant Jordi in Barcelona.

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.


Source for Ramblas picture.

Source for Sant Jordi Picture.


5 thoughts on “Dragonslayer”

  1. Oh, the other two names.

    Ross is my middle name. It is my maternal Grandfather’s first name (well his was Roscoe, but everyone called him Ross). It is also one of those names stretching back into at least the 1800s.

    Comas is a Catalan surname. There is a chocolate company with the same name. According to my father and dictionaries, it means something like “low mountain pass” or a saddle in the mountains. Just speculation here, but as the Catalans got going by being hairy, smelly, Christian mountain warriors in the 8th-9th centuries fighting the Muslim moors, I figure the name has something to do with that period. Or maybe sheep herding.


  2. Ok, my own poking around found a Catalan evolutionary genetics study that found the following about Comas.

    Quick, dirty translation. COmas is a ubiquitous surname, especially around the Girona area. 68 test subjects with this last name come from 48 distinct lineages (people with a common ancestor through the maternal, y-chromosome line). This genetic diversity reflects the widespread use of the name.

    Comas. Cognom ubicu, especialment a les comarques gironines, Sa Pobla i Binissalem; la forma Comes és comuna a l’Alt Urgell i el Pallars Sobirà, mentre que Coma assoleix les màximes freqüències al Ripollès, la Garrotxa i el Berguedà, a més de ser present a la Catalunya Nord (especialment als Aspres). De coma, petita vall. Es troba ja al fogatge de Barcelona de 1389.

    Hem pogut obtenir resultats de 68 dels 75 voluntaris d’aquest cognom, que pertanyen a 48 llinatges diferents (llinatge en el sentit de grup homes descendents d’un avantpassat comú). Es tracta d’una diversitat genètica molt elevada, cosa que indica que la freqüència d’aquest cognom s’explicaria per que es devia inventar un gran nombre de vegades. Només un llinatge agrupa més de tres individus: es tracta del llinatge 13, present al Maresme, el Pla de l’Estany i Osona. La mutabilitat de la grafia del cognom queda palesa per la seva variació dintre d’alguns llinatges (és a dir, parents que escriuen el seu cognom de manera diferent). Així, en diversos llinatges s’alternen Coma i Comas, o Comas i Comes.


  3. I was actually going to ask you on the first day of class if you were Catalan. I noticed the sticker you had on your computer, plus the only other Jordi’s I know are all Catalan-born soccer players, my favorite of whom being Jordi Alba.


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