Today roses, books and lovers have taking over the city, Sant Jordi is here!
In Catalonia the World Book Day becomes an especially romantic festivity. The people in Catalonia celebrate the day of their patron saint, Sant Jordi.
On the 23rd of April according to tradition couples exchange gifts: traditionally a book for the men and a rose for the women – although most women expect to receive a book too nowadays! Book and flower stalls are set up along the streets of Barcelona. They fill will people walking around stalls, looking for a gift for their beloved, and for their family and friends, too.
This curious festival comes from a mixture of traditions from different periods. It coincides, with the fact that Sant Jordi has been the patron saint of Catalonia since the 15th century; on the other hand, it comes from the famous legend of Saint George, which you might have heard, is that Sant Jordi slew a dragon to save a princess and then plucked a red rose for the princess from the rose bush, which had sprouted on the exact spot, where the dragon’s red blood had spilled. Also the old medieval tradition of visiting the Chapel of Sant Jordi in the Government Palace, where a rose fair or “lovers” fair used to take place. This is why Sant Jordi is also the patron saint of lovers in Catalonia.
Where did the book tradition come from on St George’s day? Not from Jordi himself. It was from Shakespeare and Cervantes. In 1923 the tradition of rose giving was expanded to include the ladies giving the men a book on Sant Jordi’s day. This is how the international ‘World Book Day’ started.
The Barcelonian wishes you all the best on this beautiful day!
We love Barcelona. We love Catalonia. We hope you fall in love with it too!