Sant Jordi or Saint George is the second most important National Day in Catalonia, the day is known in Catalan by la Diada de Sant Jordi. 23rd April is my favorite day in Barcelona, it is a romantic day, it is our love day, to show our love to your partner with a book if you are a woman and a rose if you are a man.
Sant Jordi is the Catalan Saint Valentine's day, we feel it so special as we celebrate it with roses and books, so all streets are full with book stalls and roses for a day.
Sant Jordi's Legend
For those who don't know the legend of Sant Jordi...Once upon time there was a small village terrified by the menace of a dragon that lived nearby. The villagers gave to the dragon their sheeps and goats to pacify his hunger, but there was a time where they didn't have anything more to give to the dragon. He came into town and threatened the villagers to attack the town if they would not comply with his request: he wanted a child every day brought to him.
The villagers had to choose a child to give away to the dragon, they decided that would be the fortune who should decide, and put in a bag all the names of the children. The child who had to be given to the dragon was the king's daughter. A handsome knight went for her soon after she left town to face her destiny, he promised the king that would bring his daughter back.
This knight was Sant Jordi who killed the dragon with his sword and from his blood a rose tree grew from the ground. Jordi approached the tree and took the biggest rose to give it to the princess. This is the reason why from that day onwards, Catalan men give their beloved princesses a red rose.
I love the legend and it is known to be the reason why on every 23rd of April, boys give roses to girls and girls buy books to boys -the book is not part of the legend, but more a commercial thing-. The book tradition it is said to come from the date that Cervantes and Shakespeare died on 23rd April.
What I love the most is how Barcelona transforms every 23rd of April, all streets are full of roses of every color, the typical one is the red one and it is the love color.
Although every year there are different ones: yellow, pink, blue, and even Barça football club colors. Little roses, big ones, expensive ones, there is one for each girl in the city.
Ladies have the toughest and most expensive part though, to buy a book for their loved one. It is always a beautiful think to buy something for someone you love. I have always thought that a book is so personal, to find the perfect book for someone it is almost a treasure hunt and the best part is to see his face illuminating when opening up the package.
I am a huge fan of Sant Jordi and we have a ritual every year, I am the atypical type of girl and I also get a book, why not? I love reading, so it is the perfect excuse to get both.
Where to go to live Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Every year when we get out from work we go to the city center looking for books and having a look at the atmosphere, stalls, new books and offers. In Sant Jordi there are normally book discounts, between a 5 and 10%.
The city center is where everyone concentrates, there are also book signatures, queues and queues of people to get their book signed by their favorite author. My recommendation to see the real atmosphere is to go to Plaça Catalunya, Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla de Catalunya in the city center.
The authors normally sign in the street stalls in the city center or Passeig de Sant Joan, there are also signatures organized in book shops such as FNAC, La Casa del Libro, Happy Books, El corte inglés etc..
If you would like less crowded locations, Passeig de Sant Joan is a good option as well as any neighborhood in the city will have book stalls and roses being sold on the street. If you are in Barcelona for this date you can't miss it, and of course join the tradition: books and roses everywhere!!