Today is Sant Jordi´s Day in Barcelona. Sant Jordi is St George who is patron saint of Catalonia. Sant Jordi is Barcelona's most romantic day of the year. 23rd April is the Feast or Festival of Sant Jordi - St George. Read about Sant Jordi history and legend, the traditions and what to do on Sant Jordi's day in Barcelona. A day of Roses, Romance and Books. "La Diada de Sant Jordi" is on 23rd April every year. St Jordi's day is Saint George's Day in Barcelona and Catalunya and is the most romantic day of the year. It is also called as "El Día de los Amantes," which means Lovers Day or "El día de la Rosa" which means The Rose Day. St. Jordi day is not a public holiday in Barcelona, so shops are open as usual. Read more about Sant Jordi traditions below. Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! Happy Sant Jordi day! Here is a virtual rose from us to you @->->--
What is Sant Jordi´s day? St. Jordi is Catalunya's version of Valentine's day and is a one day festival of romance, roses and books all inspired by the legend of Saint George on 23rd April every year. St. Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia (along with the Virgin of Montserrat) and so Sant Jordi is celebrated on 23rd April to commerate his death on that date in the year 303 AD. The legend of Saint George, which you probably have heard, is that Saint Jordi slew a dragon to save a princess - and then plucked a red rose for the princess from a rose bush, which had sprouted on the exact spot, where the dragon's red blood had spilled. @->->--
Youtube Sant Jordi's day in Barcelona
Tradition of giving Roses and Books Who gives what on Sant Jordi´s day in Barcelona? On Sant Jordi's day the men in Barcelona and Catalunya give their sweetheart a red rose, and in recent years a new Sant Jordi tradition is that the ladies give the men a book. There are bookstalls and book markets all over Barcelona on Sant Jordis day especially on Las Ramblas and Rambla de Catalunya. For 2013 you read or download a free e-book from Barcelona tourism office. Click on the links below to read your book and to tweet a virtual rose. @->->--
The legend of Sant Jordi The legend of George and the Dragon is truly a wonderful fairytale of knights in shining armour on white horses, dragons and beautiful princesses in the best traditions of chivalry, honour, romance, heroism, swordplay and love. The Catalan version of the St George legend goes like this: (Source Barcelona St. Jordi website)
"Once upon a time, a terrible dragon terrorised the inhabitants of a small village in Catalonia called Montblanc. The dragon wrecked havoc among the population and devoured the animals put out to pasture until there were none left. To calm the dragon's anger, the inhabitants of the village decided to sacrifice one person every day, chosen by drawing lots, and to offer that person to the dragon as a sign of their good will. "However, one, dark day, the person chosen to be sacrificed was the king's daughter. Just when she was about to be swallowed up by the dragon, a courageous knight appeared and confronted the evil beast. This was Saint George (Sant Jordi in Catalan). He thrust his lance into the dragon and, out of the blood that spurted forth, there grew a red rose bush. Since then, it has been the custom in Catalonia to present a rose to your loved one. Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia, as well as England and other countries, became the symbol of Catalonia during the Renaixença, a nineteenth century political and cultural movement that sought to reclaim the symbols of Catalan identity."
Who was St George really? It is thought that St George was born around 275/281 AD and was a Greek, who, like his father before him, became an soldier and an officer in the Roman army in the guard of Emperor Diocletian. He became a saint and a martyr for his Christian beliefs after being executed by Diocletian. He probably did not kill a dragon, but he did manage, was to become the patron saint of England, Greece, Romania and Georgia and Catalonia among others. He died in the Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. Thanks to Sant Jordi, Barcelona and Catalonia celebrates the anniversary of this death on 23rd April with Sant Jordi's day which is a wonderful day of romance when men are knights for a day and girls are princesses. @->->--
Colours of Sant Jordi roses Most Sant Jordi's day roses long stemmed red roses decorated with a sprig of wheat and a little red and yellow "senyera," the symbol of four red stripes on a golden background, which is the Catalonian flag. Many roses have the message “t'estimo," - “I love you” in Catalan. Every girl hopes for a rose on Sant Jordi’s day and so many nice guys give roses to family, friends and work colleagues too. If you can't give a rose, then e-mail one. You can send a virtual rose from the city Sant Jordi website with a message of love in many languages. @->->--
Rose colours on Sant Jordi's day. Most Sant Jordi roses are the colour red in accordance with the legend, but In recent years many colours of roses have sprouted up on Sant Jordi's day. (Perhaps dragons have many colours of blood these days too?) A yellow rose symbolises friendship. A white rose means innocence. An orange rose symbolises passion and desire and a pink rose means happiness. But red is still the most common rose to give. Red with white roses signify togetherness, a single rose means simplicity and bright red roses stand for beauty within. About 6 million roses are sold on Sant Jordi with 20% from Catalunya and 80% imported of othem have to be imported. You don't have to look for a rose stall - they are everywhere. @->->--
Sant Jordi´s day & World Book Day Around 20 million euros worth of books will be sold in 2013 on Sant Jordi's day in Catalunya. Where did the book tradition come from on St George's day? Not from Sant Jordi himself. It was from Shakespeare and Cervantes. In 1923 the tradition of rose giving was expanded to include the ladies giving the men a book on Sant Jordi's day. This is how the international "World Book Day" started. Visit UNESCO World Book Day and read how the inspiration for World Book Day originally came from Sant Jordi's day and from the fact that the 23rd April is the anniversary of the death of writers William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. They both died on the same day on 23rd April and in the same year of 1616. In actual fact Cervantes' death was 10 days earlier, because Spain was using the Gregarian calendar at the time, while England used the Julian calendar, and the two calendars are slightly different. Finding great books on Sant Jordi's day is great fun - and you can do that along central streets of Barcelona like La Rambla, the Rambla de Catalunya and the Passeig de Gracia, where hundreds of book stands present new books, special offers, book readings and there are book signings by famous Spanish and Catalan authors. Most of the books are in Spanish and Catalan, so for English books try the English book shops in Barcelona that have special deals and activities on Sant Jordi's day. @->->--
We should mention that Sant Jordi's day is not an official public holiday in Catalonia, so shops and open and people have to work, but most of us can take a few minutes off for a spot of romance on a spring day. A nice tradition on Sant Jordi - St Georges's day - in Barcelona is to stroll down the famous La Rambla pedestrian street in the Barri Gotic neighbourhood. Also bear in mind that Sant Jord's day is a super day for sharing the love and many of the flowers stalls on Las Ramblas sell roses and books in support of charitable causes, which is something to consider, when you decide at which of the hundreds of stands that you buy your rose. @->->--
Donating to a good cause also help dampen the shock of the high rose prices on St. George's day. Prices range from 3 to 12 euros for a single long stemmed rose. The crisis has not brought rose prices down, although prices do drop during the day as demand dwindles. Another noteworthy cause on Sant Jordi's is the initiative by city council called "Roses contra l'oblit," which distributes roses to the elderly to make sure that no-one is goes roseless on Sant Jordi's day. No princess left behind! And finally let's not forget Sant Jordi cakes. No festival without a cake in Catalunya, so do to visit the Barcelona pastry shops to find special St. Jordi's day pastries. @->->--
What to do on Sant Jordi's day?
Open day on Sant Jordi at Barcelona city hall on Plaça de Sant Jaume The town hall is open to the general public from 10.00 to 20.00 hours on St Jordi and you can visit the magnificent "Saló de Cent" (Room of One Hundred,) the honour staircase, the gothic gallery, the "el Saló de la Reina Regent" and "el Saló de Cròniques" as well as other areas of the city hall that are usually not open to the public. Admission is free and the entrance is on Carrer de Ciutat
If you go to Plaza Catalunya on Sant Jordi's day, you can see famous Spanish and Catalan authors being interviewed by TV and radio stations or signing copies of their books. Many Barcelona markets, museums and institutions have special Sant Jordi activities for families and children, like Casa Batllo on Paseig de Gracia
Around 30 theatres in Barcelona offer half price tickets from Sant Jordi's day and until the end of April.
In the lovely walled village of Montblanc near Barcelona and where the legend of Sant Jordi in Catalonia is often situated, there is an annual festival called Setmana Medieval de la Llegenda de Sant Jordi, which celebrates the legend of Saint George.