Sant Jordi’s day in Barcelona, a very special day
‘La Diada de Sant Jordi’ is a very special day in Catalunya, particularly in Barcelona, where even though it is a working day, it is celebrated as a holiday which makes it special and different.
Sant Jordi’s day (St. George’s day) in Barcelona is culturally special, a day to take a walk with your partner among books and roses. April 23th is a date that has always been linked directly or indirectly to literature and folk traditions, as the day of the book and the rose.
The legend tells us the story of Sant Jordi, the Patron Saint of Catalunya, who saved a beautiful Princess who was about to come to a sticky end at the hands of a dragon who had been terrorizing a village, which some people placed in Montbanc (Conca del Barberà). The dragon died and from his bleeding heart, a rose tree sprouted where Sant Jordi took the biggest and more sweetly-perfumed rose to give it to the king’s daughter. This is the reason why, from that day, the April 23th of every year, when spring bursts; Catalan men give their beloved women a red rose.
But what makes this day more important is the coincidence that in 1930 the Official Book Chamber of Barcelona, moved the World Book Day to April 23th, commemorating both deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. And later in 1995, UNESCO declared this day the International Day of the Book.
Nowadays, Sant Jordi’s day in Barcelona has similarities to Sant Valentine’s day and the main event is the exchange of gifts between lovers, friends, relatives and colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion. Though, the mutual exchange of books is also customary.
Even though it is celebrated all around Catalunya, it is especially colorful and lively in Barcelona. Simply walking around Las Ramblas you will see it: streets and squares are filled with stalls selling books and roses. It is a picturesque sight in the spring sunshine: couples walking hand in hand clutching roses and people strolling from bookshops to vermouth stops.
Sant Jordi in Barcelona is also a special day to enjoy a nice meal in good company. It is a romantic day to celebrate. That is why in Carballeira we also prepare special dishes for this day, because we think that a table for two, in an intimate cozy atmosphere is the best way to end the celebration.