Barcelona gets decked out on the 23th of April to celebrate Sant Jordi’s day, patron of Barcelona. It is one of the most important holidays in this community, in which men give away roses to women and these give books to men as a present. Originally, this delivery of presents was done between lovers, but today it is also done between our beloved ones.
It is a very special day in which the streets of the capital get crowded with people from all around the country, the smell of the roses bathes the atmosphere and books become the protagonists of this celebration in which we can enjoy endless activities and proposals around the country.
The origin of this festivity comes from a series of traditions that took place on the same day. On one hand, the 23th of April commemorates Sant Jordi’s death. Sant Jordi was a knight who managed to defeat the dragon which terrified the population of Montblanc (on the south of Cataluña).
According to the story, the dragon required an alive person every day to eat in exchange for himself not getting close to the city. However, one day misfortune wanted the king’s daughter to be chosen by the dragon. Before the lady being eaten by the reptile, the knight Sant Jordi arrived and defeated the monster, thus freeing the princess from its cruel destiny.
Also according to the legend, a rose bush grow from the dragon’s blood, from where Sant Jordi took a rose that gave away to the princess. It is believed that this is the reason men give away roses to their lovers.
On the other hand, another of the origins of this festivity is that on Medieval times people used to visit Sant Jordi chappel in the Palau de la Generalitat, where a fair of roses or of “lovers” was celebrated, which is believed to be one of the origins of the delivery of roses on Sant Jordi’s day.
Besides, on the 23d of April we also celebrate the Day of the Book in honour to the death of two great writers: Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. This day the city gets crowded with book stands and flowers, although the Ramblas is the main street par excellent on this festivity. On this day we find high volumes of people buzzing around in this street.
Sant Jordi is a great occasion for buying books, because editors take advantage of this festivity to present their last novelties, usually with important discounts. Besides, renowned authors sign their books on the street, which is a great opportunity to get closer to the authors of our preferred books.
Sant Jordi is also a perfect dat for visiting Barcelona, as the city gets full of colour, happiness and people. Besides, we will find a wide range of interesting activities around the city.
The Palau de la Generalitat, headquarters of the Catalan government, celebrates an open day for people to know the insides of this work of the Gothic architecture. Libraries also celebrate different activities and the reading of some extracts of books.
In the street, apart from the traditional book and flower stands, we also find concerts, the popular “castells”, sardanas workshops on Sant Jaume square, exhibitions…
Sant Jordi is a perfect place for discovering Barcelona.
Photo taken from Literariamente hablando Blog.