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.
“Once upon a time, a terrible dragon terrorized the inhabitants of a small village in Catalonia called Montblanc. The dragon wreaked 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 (St. 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 became the symbol of Catalonia during the Renaixença, a nineteenth century political and cultural movement that sought to reclaim the symbols of Catalan identity.”
St George was born cc 275/281AD, was a Greek, who, became the soldier and an officer in the Roman army. He died in the Greek city Nicomedia, Asia Minor. 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 to become the patron saint of England, Greece, Romania and Georgia and Catalonia among others.
Thanks to St. Jordi, Barcelona and Catalonia celebrates the anniversary of this death on 23rd April with St. Jordi’s day which is a wonderful day of romance when men are knights for a day and girls are princesses. Many Catalonian men present their female relatives with roses on St George’s Day.It is Catalunya’s version of Valentine’s day. Books and roses are the main symbols of St George’s Day in Catalonia. A sprig of wheat is often tied to a rose with a piece of red and yellow striped ribbon.This is an ancient symbol of Catalonia and forms the modern flag of this region.In Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s principal street, as well as all over the city, hundreds of flower stands selling roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 400,000 books are purchased in the name of love, registering half of the total yearly book sales of Catalonia on this day alone! One might find it difficult to see a woman without a rose in her hand, or a man walking by without a book.Even though La Diada de Sant Jordi is not an official non-working holiday, most romantics ditch the office to take a stroll through the beautiful Mediterranean streets and enjoy the sultry springtime weather. UNESCO, inspired by this day, declared La Diada de Sant Jordi a National Book Day. Bienvenidos, young lovers, wherever you are! Take your Love to Spain’s Barcelona during April to celebrate La Diada de Sant Jordi!
Sources| barcelonayellow.com, timeadndate.com, barcelona,de, donquihjote.org