Felic Diada de Sant Jordi or Happy Day of St. Jordi! Today, April 23rd, is Barcelona's most romantic day of the year where people all over the city celebrate Catalonia’s patron saint St. Jordi (St. George in Catalan). Of course, it’s not just Barcelona that celebrates the festival of St. George. He is the patron saint of England, Georgia, Romania, Greece, and several other places. However, Barcelona celebrates the day with a unique flair of culture, love, roses, and books.
To commemorate St. George's death on April 23, 303 AD the people of Barcelona give their loved ones roses and books. Tradition states that men will buy women a red rose and women will buy men a book. The best place to pick up a great read or lovely rose is on las Ramblas that is packed with flower stalls, author readings and signings, and hundreds of booksellers.
[caption id="attachment_4778" align="alignright" width="300"] St. Jordi on Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona[/caption]
The legend, dating back to the 11th century, states that St. George was traveling across Libya to a city that was being terrorized by a dragon. To keep the dragon placated they fed it sheep, but when they ran out they selected human sacrifices. One day, the king’s daughter was selected to fed to the dragon, but St. George arrived just time to slay the beast and from the dragon’s spilled blood on the ground a rose bush grew.
Men give women or loved ones a rose because of the rosebush that grows in the story. In Barcelona, the roses are also decorated with a sprig of wheat and senyera to represent the Catalan flag.
According to this blog, the tradition of giving men a book came about in 1923 because April 23rd marks the deaths of Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes and has now blossomed into World Book Day.
No matter if you’re in love with city, another person, or a great story you’ll find plenty of opportunities to find a beautiful rose, book, or event to celebrate love and the culture of Catalonia!