Barcelona is a city filled with celebrations. Some you find celebrated throughout all of Spain, some you find celebrated throughout all of Catalyuna and some you find celebrated only in Barcelona. But Sant Jordi is by far my favorite one that I learned about in Barcelona (almost beaten out by La noche de San Juan )
This by far was my most favorite day of the year in Barcelona. It made the most magical and beautiful city even more magical and more beautiful than I thought possible. The whole day is all about love, flowers and books (I mean what could be better than that?) Everywhere you walk in the city you are completely surrounded by love, and by people full of joy and happiness spreading that love. It is a feeling that is so incredibly contagious. I always found myself full of love on that day, love for the amazing people in my life, and love for Barcelona.
La Diada de Sant Jordi (aka the day of Saint George), popularly called the day of lovers, on April 23rd is also known as El día de la Rosa (the day of the rose) or El día del Libre (The day of the Book) is a holiday celebrated throughout all of Catalyuna. Sant Jordi (Saint George) is the patron saint of Catalonia and every year this day is celebrated by the locals, it’s almost like the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day (but personally I enjoy this day so much more).
The main traditions of this day are the traditions of the man giving the women a rose and the women giving the man a book. The tradition of giving a rose dates far far back in the history of Catalonia (approximately the 15th century), based on the tale of Saint Jordi and the princess. The book is relatively “new” tradition only starting in 1926, (with the death of Miguel de Cervantes happening on April 23rd… which is oddly enough the same day that Shakespeare died). However as with all traditions it has evolved, now it’s still a day full of roses and books, but there’s no longer the “rules” of books for men and flowers for girls. It’s just a day where people express how they care for each other with a token of love either in the form of a flower or a book.
I don’t know if this figure is exact, but I was told by a neighbor that on La diada de Sant Jordi over 4 million roses are sold and almost 800,000 books (which is crazy!)
The tale of Saint Jordi is a very sweet tale about a knight and a princess, the days leading up to my students excitedly told me the tale (multiple times) . It goes something like this..
According to a Catalan legend there was a dragon living in the village of Montblac (which is slightly south of Barcelona). The dragon ate all the animals in the village and then the dragon began to eat people. To satisfy the dragon’s hunger each year the people of the village chose a person at random to be sacrificed to the dragon. One year the King’s daughter’s name was chosen, but just before she was to be eaten, a knight, now known as Sant Jordi, rode into town to save the princess. He killed the dragon with his sword and saved the princess’s life. The tale then goes on to say that after Sant Jordi killed the dragon a red rose grew up from the spot where the dragon’s blood was spilled and Sant Jordi gave the rose to the princess.
Sant Jordi is a magical and beautiful day to walk through the city of Barcelona. Every major plaza and street is filled with stands of people selling roses and/or books. Everywhere you turn you see people walking carrying roses, it is so beautiful. You could see an old lady walking with friends carrying roses, a man on the metro with a rose for his sweetheart, and even little kids with roses to give to the people they care about. (some of the kids that I taught English to brought me roses). It is a day full of love, passion, happiness and books… all great things to be celebrated. Just another reason why I love Barcelona so so much.