Sant Jordi Day Barcelona rose & book festival 2018 - A festival of Romance, Roses & Books on 23rd April

Sant Jordi's Day Barcelona

Sant Jordi's Day Barcelona 2018

Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! Sant Jordi´s Day Barcelona  'La Diada de Sant Jordi' is on 23rd April every year and is a very special day for romance and literature in Catalonia! It is also called the Feast or the Festival of St George. Sant Jordi is the Catalan name of Saint George, who is the patron saint of Catalonia and also of neighbouring autonomous community of Aragon. 

St Jordi's day is Barcelona's most romantic day of the year. St Jordi's is a day of Roses, Romance and Books. Read about Sant Jordi history and legend, the traditions and things to do on Sant Jordi's day in Barcelona.

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 'El Día de los Amantes,' which means 'Lovers Day' and sometimes called '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.  

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Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! Happy Sant Jordi day!  Here is a virtual rose from us to you
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Read more about things to do on Sant Jordi's day by scrolling down the page

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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, or San Jorge, has been the co-patron saint of Catalonia province of Spain for over 500 years since 1507. (The other co-patron saints of Catalonia are the Blessed Virgin of Montserrat at the Benedictine Montserrat monastery near Barcelona - and a lesser known co-patron saint Santa Madrona. Barcelona has three patron saints in total.)

Sant Jordi is celebrated on 23rd April to commerate his death on 23rd April in the year 303 AD. The legend of Saint George, which you might have heard, is that Saint Jordi slew a dragon to save a princess and then plucked a red rose for the princess from the rose bush, which had sprouted on the exact spot, where the dragon's red blood had spilled. @->->--

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Rose & book traditions

What is the tradition of Rose and Book on Sant Jordi´s day in Barcelona? Who gets what? On Sant Jordi's day the men - the knights - in Barcelona and Catalunya give their sweetheart - the princess - 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. Around 7 million roses are expected to be sold in 2018 on Sant Jordi's day!

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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. Here is the local Catalan version of the legend of St George and the dragon as it was once told on the city 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.' Source Barcelona St. Jordi website.

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Who was St George?

It is thought that Saint George was born around the year 275/281 AD in Greece. Like his father before him, George became an soldier and an officer in the Roman army in the guard of Emperor Diocletian, who was a Roman emperor from 284 to 305.  George was executed for his Christian beliefs during the reign of Diocletian and became a saint and a martyr among Christians.

It is unknown how the legend of Saint George arose, but the most likely explanation is that it was such a great legend that everyone loved it and the legend was copied and so Saint George ended up being the patron saint of England, Greece, Romania and Georgia and Catalonia among other places. In those days one could obviously copy a legend without any copyright issues. Not so easy today!

St George died in the Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. Thanks to Sant Jordi, Barcelona and Catalonia celebrates the anniversary of his death on 23rd April with Sant Jordi's day which is a wonderful day of romance when men can be knights for a day and girls become princesses.

Red rose St Jordi - st georges day - barcelona

About Sant Jordi day 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 official flag of Catalonia. Many roses have the message 't'estimo' - 'I love you' in Catalan language. You can send also send a virtual rose from the city's official Sant Jordi website with a message of love in many languages. 

Rose colours 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 appeared  on Sant Jordi's day. A yellow rose is the symbolic colour for friendship. In 2018 for the first time ever, a yellow rose has a new symbolic meaning in Catalonia for some people in the Catalan population. This is because the colour yellow since October 2017 has been used, mostly in the form of yellow ribbons, to indicate support for the movement to free former politicians, who have been charged - and in some cases imprisoned pending trial - for their involvement in an failed attempt to declare unilateral independence for the region of Catalonia from Spain in 2017.

For this reason, florists expect to sell 600,000 yellow roses on Sant Jordi's day in 2018 instead of the usual amount of 60,000 yellow roses. More rose colours. A white rose signifies innocence. An orange rose symbolises passion and desire and a pink rose means happiness. Red with white roses signify togetherness, a single rose means simplicity and bright red roses symbolize inner beauty.

What do rose colours mean Sant Jordi Barcelona


How many roses are sold on Sant Jordi

About 7 million roses in total are sold on Sant Jordi with 20% from Catalunya and 80% imported of othem have to be imported. You don't have to look far for a rose stall - they will be everywhere. 

Diada Sant Jordi Barcelona
 

Sant Jordi´s day & World Book Day


Around 20 million euros worth of books are sold 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 the UNESCO World Book Day website - now called the UNESCO World Book & Copyright Day. The inspiration for World Book Day originally came from Sant Jordi's day and from the fact that the 23rd April is also the anniversary of the death of two very famous writers namely William Shakespeare of England and Miguel de Cervantes of Spain.

Both authors 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.)

World Book Day Barcelona - Sant Jordi Barcelona

Browsing book stands on Sant Jordi's day is fun and interesting.  There are book markets on Plaza Catalunya and on central streets of Barcelona like La Rambla - which will be very crowded ( see photo further down)-  the Rambla de Catalunya and the elegant Passeig de Gracia. On these streets hundreds of stands sell new books, old books, special offers. Around Plaza Catalunya there are book readings, events and book signings by famous Spanish and Catalan authors and famous international authors like Mary Beard, who attended in 2018. We read in an interview she gave in a Spanish paper, that she thought the ladies should get more books and the men more roses. Good point! The future is that we all get a rose and a book! That would be lovely.

Book signings Sant Jordi - Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Most of the books are in Spanish and Catalan, so for English books try the English book shops in Barcelona, which have special deals and activities on Sant Jordi's day. From 2016 Barcelona is became a UNESCO City of Literature and is part of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network joining Edinburgh, Prague, Krakow, Dublin, Montevideo, Ljubljana among other cities which embrace literature as part of their cultural creativity.

In 2018 lovers of mystery books will be able to discover or rediscover one of Barcelona’s most important literary figures with the re-printing of of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s novel 'Barcelones.' which you can buy in the Sala Ciutat bookshop on Carrer de la Cuitat in the gothic area in an English edition. 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 but be prepared for a crowded experience as you can see from the photo below

La Rambla street Sant Jordi Barcelona

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.

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.
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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. Rose prices do drop during the day as demand dwindles, so a good tip is to wait to buy your rose until late in the day! Not sure if your romantic partner will be happy about waiting that long though!

A 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 called Coques de Sant Jordi


Things to do on Sant Jordi's day

Sant Jordi's is mostly about browsing the city and enjoying the atmosphere of romance and love. But many museums will have St George themed offers and activities. You can also visit the interior of Barcelona city hall called Ajuntament de Barcelona which always has an Open day for Sant Jordi. Barcelona city hall is on Plaça de Sant Jaume in the gothic area of Barcelona. (If you look at the buildings on Plaça de Sant Jaume you will see St Jordi slaying the dragon.) The city hall is open to the general public free from 10.00 to 20.00 hours on St Jordi's day. 

St George on Barcelona government building

Inside you can visit the magnificent 'Saló de Cent' (Room of One Hundred,) the honour staircase, the gothic gallery, the 'Saló de la Reina Regent' and 'el Saló de Cròniques' as well as other areas of the city hall that are normally not open to the public. Admission is free on Sant Jordi's and the entrance is at the side gate on Carrer de Ciutat. Tip. There might be long lines

Vísit Barcelona pastry shops for delicious Coques de Sant Jordi

Coques de Sant Jordi

At 7pm on 23rd April a traditional display of sardana dancing by the Sant Jordi sardana group takes place on city hall square Placa de Sant Jaume.  If you go to Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona's central square, on Sant Jordi's day, you can see many 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 including Casa Batllo by Gaudi, which has a facade decoration inspired by Sant Jordi. The scaly roof symbolizes the dragon and the bones of the dragon's victims frame the Casa Battlo windows.

Find Sant Jordi activities Barcelona
Sant Jordi Música 2018 is at the Antiga Fàbrica d'Estrella Damm (old Damm beer factory cultural v enue) who host a Sant Jordi concert programme with national artists and book and record signings. In the medieval 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.

Activities Barcelona Sant Jordi
Pictures Sant Jordi's day Barcelona

How to send a rose using plain text characters: Copy/paste this rose @->->--

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Images of Sant Jordi in Barcelona


Casa Amatller Sant Jordi


Sant Jordi statue by Subirachs at Montserrat Abbey

Where can you see Saint George in Barcelona and Catalonia?

On facade of Palau de la Generalitat on Placa Jaume.
Inside Palau de la Generalitat on courtyard 'el Pati dels Tarongers'
In Saló de Cent  inside 'Casa de la Ciutat' building
Inside Sagrada Familia. 3m high bronze statue by Josep Subirachs from 2007 which was 500th anniversary of the Saint Jordi's proclamation as patron saint of the Catalonia.
On plaza and basilica at Montserrat monastery
Outside Diputacio de Barcelona top of Rambla de Catalunya
Entrance Casa Amatller - Eusebi Arnau's sculpture
On corner of Els Quatre Gats café
Address Casa Batllo
Address Casa Amatller
Pictures Casa Batllo
On facade Casa Batlló 

Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! 
Happy Sant Jordi day!

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Pictures from previous version of this article

St Jordi Barcelona la rambla

Diada Sant Jordi Barcelona

St Jordi Barcelona

St Jordi Barcelona roses


Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:25