On Sant Jordi’s Day, Love and Culture are Celebrated in Barcelona

April 24, 2024 My travel Journal, Wonder, My book

The legend of Sant Jordi and the dragon

April 23 commemorates the death of Sant Jordi (Saint George), the patron saint of Catalonia. According to legend, many years ago, there lived a dragon that was fed daily with human sacrifices. The population was terrified, and the day came when the princess had to be sacrificed. Sant Jordi went out searching for the dragon and cut off its head, then he stuck his sword with the dragon’s blood into the ground, and a rose bush with beautiful red roses grew from it. Sant Jordi offered them to the princess as a symbol of his love.

That’s part of the story, but why the books?

In the second decade of the 20th century, a day was created in October to encourage reading, which was later moved to April 23 for two important reasons: on Sant Jordi’s Day, roses were offered to women as a symbol of love, but at that time flowers were not offered to men (now they are), so what better gift than a book? The second reason is that April 23 is a significant day for Western literature; coincidentally, Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on that date.

In Barcelona, it is celebrated big, and the streets are filled with books and roses. More than seven million roses and almost two million books are sold in a single day!

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