Sant Jordi: Love and Culture around Barcelona

On April 23, the Sant Jordi Day is celebrated throughout Catalonia. It is a very special day for the Catalans since it is a day to reclaim their own culture. Tradition says that boys should give a rose to their beloved, while girls should give them a book.

The legend

A long time ago there was a terrifying dragon located in the village of Montblanc, south-west of Barcelona. The dragon was always hungry, so the people gave him one animal a day to keep it from attacking the village. However, one day the dragon ate the last of the animals, and then it started eating the people of the town too. In order to satisfy the hunger of the dragon, the village decided to randomly choose a person every day to be sacrificed to the beast.

One day the princess’ name came up, and although that made the King very sad, he sent her to the dragon. But just when the beast was about to eat the princess, a brave and handsome knight, known as Sant Jordi, rode into town and killed the dragon with his spear, saving her life.

From the blood of the dragon, there grew a rose bush, and Sant Jordi took a red rose and gave it to the princess as a sign of his love. Everybody in the village was very happy because the dragon was dead and they lived peacefully ever after.

The real history

Sant Jordi was a knight who served Emperor Diocletian, and who refused to follow his orders to persecute the Christians, so he was beheaded on April 23rd of 303. From that moment on he was started venerate and then fantastic stories about his person emerged.

In the fifteenth century, a fair of roses was held every year in commemoration of Sant Jordi attended by many engaged couples and young matrons. It is thought that this is the origin of the tradition of giving a rose to loved ones. 

On the other hand, on November 15th, 1995, the General Conference of Unesco decreed April 23rd as the International Book and Copyright Day. So, during that day the readers take the opportunity to exchange reading impressions in the streets with their favorite writers. In recent years, this ritual has had a great media reception so that success has spread well beyond the Catalan territory.

Sant Jordi today

Since then the popularity of this day has been growing in such a way that it is almost impossible to walk through the streets of Barcelona on that date. In each corner of the city, you can find stops with roses and books. In addition, there are many acts in which free love is claimed, as well as musical performances with the Catalan culture as the main character.

 

April 23rd is not a day to stay at home. In the streets of Barcelona you can find writers signing their books at the stands, talks with authors, commemorative parties and also a blood donation campaign, because being altruistic is a great gesture of love.

In addition, the entire city is decorated. If you walk along Paseo de Gracia you have to go to Casa Batlló, the most commemorative building on this day. Gaudí was inspired by the Legend of Sant Jordi to create this architectural masterpiece (the roof imitates the scales of a dragon). So in the day, the house dresses its facade with roses giving it an even more impressive look.

Start planning your Spring love getaway for next year in one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Stroll along the Ramblas of Barcelona feeling the smell of roses, enjoy the Catalan culture at its peak and delight. We know April 2019 is not just around the corner but, it’s never too early. 

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