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what is the meaning of the phrase "dan con el santo" in the context of this passage?

La moraleja es que aquél que quiera venir a Suecia, tiene que hacerlo con un plan que incluya varios años de rodaje, ya que muy pocos llegan y dan con el santo. Nadie, si me preguntan.

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    Could you indicate where you got the text from? For proper referencing and also for context. – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Dec 18 '19 at 7:31
  • @fedorqui see the link i found for the article where this text was extracted from – ipp Dec 19 '19 at 2:50
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The meaning of the phrase is better understandable in relationship with the idiom "finding the holy grail", translated to Spanish as

dar con el santo grial

This is apparently an idiomatic term in a number of European languages which applies to an object that has great significance, is much desired but is impossible (or nearly impossible) to find.

As noted already, one of the meaning of "dar" (when associated with "con") is to find somebody or something

dar con

  1. intr. Encontrar a alguien o algo. Dar con Isabel, con el escondrijo.

Specifically, as per your request, that phrase (found in this article is a conclusion where a woman from Spain —who herself moved to Sweden and has fully adapted after living there for 20 years— gives advice on the hard path towards overcoming the large cultural gap for someone willing to immigrate. She warns about the tough difficulties of learning the language and embracing the local modes, something not instantly achievable, and as unlikely to happen immediately as finding the holy-grail


You can see that many instances of such metaphorical use come out in internet searches; like this article when referring about a ground-breaking discovery in the biological field

(...) Para poder dar con el “Santo Grial de la fecundación”, el doctor Aguilar se asoció con un grupo dirigido por Christophe Dessimoz, de la Universidad de Lausanne, Suiza. (...)

In order to find the "Holy Grail of Fertilization," Dr. Aguilar partnered with a group led by Christophe Dessimoz, from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

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  • Thank you for a such an enlightening and in depth answer. Learning about the usage "dar con" was a pleasant bonus! – user25849 Dec 21 '19 at 2:32
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"Llegar y dar con el santo" means to arrive to one place and succeed fast and easily in the first attempt. That "dar" doesn't mean "to give" but to "find". It's also common to say "Llegar y besar el santo".

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  • I had never heard dar con el santo, while besar el santo is indeed the case and reported in the DLE – fedorqui 'SO stop harming' Dec 18 '19 at 7:59
  • @fedorqui maybe the original text mixed the besar sentence with this other: "dar alguien con el santo en tierra": 1. loc. verb. coloq. Dejar caer lo que lleva. – Charlie Dec 18 '19 at 8:54

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