Sant Jordi’s Day, also known as the Day of the Rose and the Book, is one of the most beloved celebrations in Barcelona. This special day, which takes place on April 23rd, is a beautiful combination of
love, culture, and tradition that attracts both locals and tourists alike. Let’s explore the legend behind this holiday, how it’s celebrated in Barcelona, and the unique tradition of the rose and the book.
The Legend of Sant Jordi
The story of Sant Jordi (Saint George) is a popular legend that has been passed down through generations. According to the legend, a dragon was terrorizing a small village, and the only way to appease it was to sacrifice a young virgin every day. One day, the princess was chosen to be sacrificed, but just as the dragon was about to devour her, Sant Jordi appeared on his horse and saved her by slaying the dragon with his sword. From the dragon’s blood, a beautiful red rose bloomed, and Sant Jordi presented it to the princess as a symbol of his love and admiration.
The Celebration in Barcelona
In Barcelona, Sant Jordi’s Day is a public holiday, and the entire city is adorned with roses and books. The streets are filled with vendors selling roses and books of all genres, and many locals and visitors dress in red and yellow, the colors of the Catalan flag, to celebrate this special day. The main celebration takes place in the Gothic Quarter, where there are book fairs, flower markets, and traditional music performances. Additionally, many museums and cultural centers offer free admission, and there are various parades and processions throughout the city.
The Tradition of the Rose and the Book
The tradition of the rose and the book dates back to the 15th century when the first edition of “Don Quixote” was published on April 23rd, 1616, which is also the day that William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes passed away. To honor these great writers, it became customary to give a rose to one’s loved one and a book to a friend or family member on this day. Over the years, this tradition has evolved into the modern-day celebration of Sant Jordi’s Day, where books and roses are exchanged between loved ones and friends.
Where to Celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day in Barcelona
There are many places in Barcelona where you can celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day, but the Gothic Quarter is undoubtedly the most popular spot. Here you can find the largest book and flower markets, as well as various events and concerts. Other notable places to celebrate include the Passeig de Gracia, where you can find some of the most beautiful book and flower displays, and the Parc de la Ciutadella, which hosts a variety of cultural events and performances.