La Diada de Sant Jordi in Barcelona

 

Saint George's Day, in Catalan "La Diada de Sant Jordi", is on 23rd of April. It is a big celebration in Catalonia.

 

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La Diada de Sant Jordi, also called as "El Día de la Rosa" and "El Dia del Llibre", is celebrated in Barcelona every year 23rd of April. It's known as the day of lovers, too.

 

Sant Jordi is a Catalan traditional holiday, with some similarities to Valentine's Day. Historically men gave women a rose, and in exchange women gave men a book. "A rose for love, and a book forever" as it was said. The same tradition is still going on, even though in modern days mutual exchange of books is also conventional.

 

You can find stands selling roses in all possible colors and variationsRed roses are the most traditional, and symbolizing love. Yellow roses symbolizes friendship, and white roses innocence. Orange roses are a symbol of passion and desire, whilst pink ones are significating happiness. Catalan tradition is to buy a red rose decorated with a sprig of wheat.

 

During La Diada de Sant Jordi the streets of Barcelona and all over Catalonia will be crowded with people, and you will see most of the women walking with roses in their hands. Rose selling stands and book shops are set up everywhere, and in the evening of the day around 6 million roses and 800 000 books will be sold. In 1995 UNESCO adopted 23rd April as World Book Day.

 

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The legend of Sant Jordi, in English Saint George, as it's written on the Ajuntament de Barcelona's official website:

 

"Once upon a time a fearsome dragon was terrifying the inhabitants of a small town in Catalonia called Montblanc. It was wreaking havoc among the town's populace and devouring the animals grazing in the fields.

So, to soothe the dragon's anger, the town's inhabitants decided they would sacrifice someone every day, drawing lots to see who they would offer as a token of their good will. 

One day, it was the turn of the king's daughter to be sacrificed. But, just when the dragon was about to gobble her up, a handsome knight appeared and confronted the beast. This was Sant Jordi (St George). He drove his lance into the dragon and a bush of red roses sprang out of the blood that spilled.

His was a bold and selfless gesture that changed the course of the town's history and gave birth to our legend. Ever since it has been the custom in Catalonia to give your loved one a rose. Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia since the 19th century, became the symbol of Catalan lands through the Renaixença, the Catalan Renaissance, a political and cultural movement to recover the symbols of Catalan identity." (Story of the legend: Ajuntament de Barcelona)

 

 

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