Sant Jordi is the name of St George in Catalan. As St George day, Sant Jordi is on 23 April. For most of the people in Barcelona and Catalonia, this is the most romantic day in the year, the “El Día de los Amantes” (Lovers Day) and sometimes “El Día de la Rosa” (Rose Day). Sant Jordi is not a public holiday, but it is a cultural and romantic festival for everyone.
The origin and legend
Later, you may find out that Sant Jordi is not just a day of joy but also of books and flowers. But why? The answer is that the tradition of this festival comes from different periods in the past.
Since the 15th century, Sant Jordi has been the patron saint of Catalonia, so it must be a day of joy. According to the legend of Sant Jordi and the Dragon, there was a day when a beautiful princess was chosen to be sacrificed for the peace of Montblanc village due to the anger of a ghastly dragon. At the moment the princess was about to be swallowed by the dragon, a dark knight appeared, bravely thrust his sword into the fiery dragon. After that, from the pool of blood, a rose bush grew. Since then, the custom of giving a rose to the beloved has become a part of Catalan culture in Sant Jordi Day.
UNESCO World Book Day is on 23 April. It is inspired by the spread of book giving to men tradition in Catalonia on Sant Jordi since the 1920s. After that, it is recognized that 23 April 1616 is the death of two famous writers in the world, Miguel de Cervantes of Spain and William Shakespeare of England.
Tradition on Sant Jordi
Sant Jordi is the day of books, rose and romance. During Sant Jordi Day, gifts are exchanged between lovers and sometimes family members and friends. The tradition is men receive a book and women receive a rose.
Temporary rose stalls and bookshelves are found on any main street. In Barcelona, you may want to join people flow and smell the scents of new and old books while enjoying the charm of colorful roses in La Rambla, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya.
What to do on Sant Jordi?
On this day, most of the people in Barcelona and Catalonia are going to streets. Even though it is not a holiday, workers usually leave offices earlier or take a break to enjoy the atmosphere.
If you are in Barcelona on that day, here are some tips for you:
- Take a walk on La Rambla, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya to enjoy the best atmosphere.
- Walk on Passeig de Sant Joan or any neighborhood street for fewer people walking by.
- Have a list of your favorite books and get some special offers (which is usually 5-10% discount on this day).
- Check whether your favorite authors will hold a book signing event and the location
- Look for cafe and bookshop holding reading events.
- Be patient in a queue for a signed book.
- Consider buying gifts in donating rose stalls.
- Enjoying street performance on large squares.
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Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi!