Saint George’s day (Saint Jordi in Catalan) is April 23. It’s not a public holiday in Barcelona but it’s the most romantic and magical festival of the year when men and women exchange roses and books in the name of love. Valentine’s day has taken a backseat to Saint George’s day for centuries in Catalonia.

On one hand, this celebration coincides with the international day of the book to commemorate the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes. On the other, it coincides with the medieval day of the rose.

Saint George is not only the patron saint of Catalonia but also of countries such as England, Portugal, Greece and Germany. Despite being celebrated in other places worldwide, enjoying such a festival in Barcelona or in Catalonia is a unique experience!

It’s the best day for lovers and readers. There are book and rose stalls everywhere, at every lamppost from the early morning until the evening twilight. The city centre is packed with people taking over the streets like the Ramblas or Passeig de Gràcia, where famous writers sign their books, TV cameras and Catalan flags can be spotted easily. Poetry readings and cultural events are widespread.

According to the legend, Saint George was a Christian knight in the Roman army who fought bravely the crusades. He is famous for the episode of the dragon. The story tells that a village was being threatened by an evil beast. The villagers would feed it sheep so as to prevent them from attacks. Once they ran out of animals, a person was given to the dragon by lot. One day, against the king’s will, his daughter was selected. Fortunately, Saint George was passing by. He killed the monster and saved the princess. The Catalans have modified the end of the story to match it with the day of the rose. They believe a rose bush grew out of the dragon’s blood. Saint George took a red rose from the rose bush and gave it to the princess as a symbol of love.

So, if you want to follow the Catalan tradition today, buy a rose to your partner if you are a man, and your girlfriend will get you a book. Actually, roses and books are also given among friends and collegues.
Feel the passion and excitement of the day. Don’t miss it. It’s a good excuse to come to Barcelona for a long weekend and experience it. It’s an event that I, like all the locals, highly recommend.

Eva Verges
Hello, there! I’m Eva. I’m 33 years old and happy to live in Barcelona, where I was born. Enthusiastic, dynamic, open-minded, friendly and patient. I have always had itchy feet and enjoyed travelling and exploring new places. Eager to learn more and more every day and embark on new adventures for treasure hunts. A Barcelona lover who becomes homesick when is far from her charming city for a long period of time. I like mingling with the melting pot, getting lost in the narrowest medieval streets of the Gothic quarter and smelling the aroma of countless enticing cafés. Its eclectic non-stop style doesn’t let you stay at home. An excellent hostess and tour guide.

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