Barcelona – Sant Jordi Day is on 23rd April. It is also called “La Diada de Sant Jordi”, the Feast or Festival of St George. Sant Jordi is the Catalan name of Saint George, who is the patron saint of Catalonia.
St Jordi’s day is Barcelona’s most romantic day of the year in Barcelona. St Jordi’s is a day of roses, romance and books.
A the tradition goes, throughout Catalonia in Barcelona – Sant Jordi Day is a day in which couples, friends, and family, give one another a rose or a book. On this day, the Generalitat in Plaça de Sant Jaume is open to the public where there is a large rose market. You can buy books everywhere. During this day you can barely walk throughout certain parts of the city as the crowds flock to the streets to by that perfect rose or that perfect book.
Although George was venerated in the Middle Ages in Europe, today we know very little about this historical figure. It is certain that he served as a Roman soldier around 300 AD. He was regarded as a Christian martyr who would not be questioned about his beliefs. The name “Georgius” means farm, which is perhaps the reason why the Catholic liturgy chose this day in spring as his name day. He is also regarded as a protector of the harvest and lovers. The best known and most popular legend describes how he defeated a dragon in the infinite country Silene.
This dragon poisoned the air of a village. To appease him, the people sacrificed a lamb and a virgin. One day the princess of the country met this fate; George killed the dragon and freed her. The Princess and the entire population were converted to Christianity. Since the 13th century the most widely used figure of Sant Jordi is the scene where he kills the dragon with a lance while riding a white horse. You see this figure not only throughout Catalonia, but also throughout cities and towns where Catalan culture has been prominent. I saw this figure personally on church that dates back to 800 AD while traveling throughout Sicily.
So, the above helps explain the rose, a symbol of love. But how about the book? Why do people exchange roses for books, and visa versa? Coincidence. In 1926 Spain declared the 23rd of April, the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the most famous Spanish writer, as Book Day. But it just so happens that this day is significant in England as well as they respect the 23rd of April as the death of Shakespeare. It was a coincidence that this coincided with the day of the feast of Sant Jordi. This led, however, to mean that Book Day was hardly celebrated. Only much later did the day of love also became a day of literature in the mind of the population.
So, Barcelona – Sant Jordi Day, is today the day of the rose and the book; the day of love and culture.
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