The day of Sant Jordi is a date marked on the calendar of all Catalans, but at the same, has been crossing borders for years. Every April 23rd, Barcelona receives thousands of people who want to see how the Catalan capital celebrates this day. The streets of the city are filled with books, roses, literary events and many, many people.
From a legend to a tradition
Legend has it that a ferocious dragon terrorized the small town of Montblanc. It began to devour the animals, until there were no more left. Then, to keep the town safe, it was decided that a local resident would be offered every day to be eaten. After a few days, it was the princess’ turn, but when she was about to be devoured by the beast, the knight Sant Jordi appeared and killed the dragon by thrusting his lance into its chest. From the spilled blood of the animal was born a rose bush full of red roses. The knight took one and gave it to the princess.
Although the reality is that April 23rd commemorates the death of George of Cappadocia, the legend born from his character is the one that has brought all the symbolism to this date and has turned its celebration into a tradition. The act of giving a red rose as a gift dates back to the Middle Ages, however, the element of the book was not added until later. Coinciding with the date of the death of Shakespeare and Cervantes in 1930, it was decided to establish April 23 as the book day in Spain, thanks to the proposal of the writer Vicent Clavel in 1926. Years later, UNESCO would establish this same date as World Book and Copyright Day.
How is Sant Jordi celebrated?
Catalonia goes all out to celebrate Sant Jordi’s Day. Culture invades the streets in the form of books, workshops, author signings, concerts and special radio and television programs. Barcelona, as the capital, concentrates most of the activity and the city center fills with life. Book and rose stalls occupy, above all, Las Ramblas and Paseo de Gracia, but you can feel the atmosphere in every corner of the city. Therefore, if you do not like crowds, we recommend that you get up early and take advantage of the morning to stroll through the center, as the area fills up as the hours go by.
If this is the first time you visit Barcelona on this date, focus on Las Ramblas, Plaza Real, Plaza Cataluña, Portal del Ángel and Paseo de Gracia. Although if you have a clear objective (the signing of a writer or a concert, for example), the best thing to do is to check the agenda to organize your route.
It is also highly recommended to visit museums and some of the most emblematic spaces of the city that open their doors on this date, such as the city hall. You can also go to see buildings such as Casa Batlló which, although it does not offer an open day, decorates its facade in a spectacular way.
It should be noted that, although roses and books are the most representative of the day, they are not the only typical elements of this celebration. If after walking around the city you get a little hungry, you can always buy the famous Pa de Sant Jordi. All the bakeries and pastry shops in the city sell this food, which is made with sobrassada and cheese. The colors of the ingredients, with the right combination, make this special bread have a Catalan flag inside.
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