April 23th – the day of roses and books! Across all of Catalonia, this day is dedicated to celebrating both love and literature. It is also known as La Diada de Sant Jordi which translates into The Day of St. George. It can be a good idea to visit Barcelona if you want to enjoy the romantic atmosphere of that moment. Continue reading if you’d like to learn more about the meaning behind the tradition of exchanging books and roses. We assure you that you won’t be disappointed!
The celebration of Sant Jordi
The festival of Sant Jordi is a very popular event in Catalonia combining culture, traditions and romanticism. While the whole world celebrates St. Valentine´s Day on the 14th of February, in Catalonia the situation is different. Both St. Valentine’s Day and World Book Day are being celebrated during the day of Sant Jordi. What does this mean? Couples traditionally exchange gifts on this day, with the men giving the ladies a book and the women giving the men a rose.
Barcelona on the day of Sant Jordi
The decoration of the city during the festival is also impressive. Since over the years St. Jordi became a celebration of the Catalan culture, you will notice many balconies having the senyer – the Catalan flag. Using the rose as a main ornament also has its reasons. On the one hand, it represents the feminine love and passion. On the other hand, it is interpreted as the good weather coming. As for the general atmosphere, Barcelona’s streets are lined with books which you can buy and flower stalls. People crowd the streets as they are in search of the perfect present for their special one as well as for their relatives and friends. Moreover, during that time some of the newest books will be available. You may witness famous writers and artists signing their books.
The origins of the festival
Even if the festival combines customs from several periods, two main objectives of its existence could be outlined. First and foremost, it is essential to remember that Sant Jordi has been regarded as Catalonia’s patron saint since the 15th century. In fact, in the fifteenth century, Barcelona was already hosting a Sant Jordi rose festival. Some speculate that the fair, held at the Palau de la Generalitat, is where the tradition of giving a rose originated because it was especially well-liked by newlyweds, engaged couples, and young married couples. As for the connection of this day with books, this could be traced back to the 1920s. It was then, when the Valencian author and director of the Cervantes publishing house proposed setting up a festival to promote books in Catalonia to the Barcelona Official Chamber of Books and the Publishers and Booksellers Guild.
Apart from that, the second thing is the legend behind the celebration. It tells the story of Saint George defeating a dragon that was terrorizing the princess and the village. He gave the princess one of the lovely red roses that spilled out of the dragon’s body after killing it with his sword.
All in all, we would say: don´t miss the chance to see Barcelona on the day of Sant Jordi. You would not find another place filled with such energy and romanticism. If you think it is too late – no, not at all! We got your back. You can have a look at our posts regarding Barcelona to see how you can plan a trip very quickly. Also, we guess that the question of accommodation is another worry. For that, down below you have the quickest way to some of the best accommodations in Barcelona that we have to offer you: