This by far was my most favorite day ever in Barcelona thus far. It made the most magical and beautiful city even more magical and more beautiful than I thought could ever be possible. The whole day was all about love, flowers and books. Everywhere you went you were surrounded by it, and by people full of joy an happiness; it was so contagious (and incredibly romantic)… but the romance didn’t make me feel sad or lonely, I just felt full of love. Love for the amazing people in my life, this amazing opportunity and this magical city.
La Diada de Sant Jordi (the day of Saint George), popularly called the day of lovers, April 23rd is also known as El dia de la Rosa (the day of the rose) or El dia del Libre (The day of the Book) is a holiday celebrated all throughout Catalyuna. Sant Jordi (Saint George) is the patron saint of Catalonia and every year this day is celebrated by the locals, it’s almost like the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day (but personally I enjoy this day more).
The main thing of this day is the tradition of the men giving the women a rose and the women giving the men a book. The tradition of giving a rose dates far far back in the history of Catalonia (approximately the 15th century) , based on the tale of Saint Jordi and the princess. The book is relatively “new” tradition only starting in 1926, (with the death of Miguel de Cervantes happening on April 23rd… which is oddly enough the same day that Shakespeare died). However as with all traditions it has evolved, now it’s still a day full of roses and books, but there’s no longer the “rules” of books for men and flowers for girls. It’s just a day where people express how they care for each other with a token of love either in the form of a flower or a book.
I don’t know if this figure is exact, but I was told by a neighbor that on La diada de Sant Jordi over 4 million roses are sold and almost 800,000 books (which is crazy!)
The tale of Saint Jordi is a very sweet tale about a knight and a princess, the days leading up to my students excitedly told me the tale (multiple times) . It goes something like this..
According to a led gent there was a dragon living in the village of Montblac (which is slightly south of Barcelona). The dragon ate all the animals in the village and then the dragon started to eat people. To satisfy the dragon’s hunger each year the people of the village chose a person randomly to be sacrificed to the dragon. One year the King’s daughter’s name was chosen, but just before she was to be eaten a knight , now known as Sant Jordi, rode into town to save the princess. He killed the dragon with his sword and saved the princess’s life. The tale then goes on to say that after Sant Jordi killed the dragon a red rose grew up from the spot where the dragon’s blood was spilled and Sant Jordi gave the rose to the princess.
It was a magical and beautiful day to walk through the city. Every major plaza and street was filled with stands of people selling roses and/or books. Also, everywhere you went you saw people walking carrying roses, it was beautiful. You could see an old lady walking with friends carrying roses, a man on the metro with a rose for his sweetheart, and even little kids with roses to give to the people they care about. It was a day full of love, passion, happiness and books… all great things to be celebrated. Just another reason why I love this city so so much.