Tradition, history, legend, love, roses and, above all, a lot of literature: in Barcelona, the World Book Day shines with special force. It is celebrated one of the most important days in Catalonia, the day of Sant Jordi, in which different legends and traditions come together one day.
Sant Jordi is a hymn to love, literature and Catalan culture where history and myth merge: so say the written sources, Sant Jordi died on April 23 of the year 303 for refusing to carry out the orders of Emperor Diocletian, who intended to persecute Christians.
The Catalan version of the legend says that Sant Jordi defeated a dragon that frightened the kingdom, and the blood of the beast sprang a rose that bloomed every April. With the close relationship between the figure of St. George and the courtly love, it seems odd that the origin of why red roses girls are given away during the day, right?
In addition, there was already a show of love in Barcelona since the fifteenth century, which was held at the Palace of the Generalitat. Surrounding the palace there were stalls where roses were sold. Later, to this tradition it was added to give the rose accompanied by a spike which represents fertility and the arrival of warm weather.
April 23 became the Book Day in Catalonia due to the success of the Universal Exhibition of 1929, as it coincided with the death of Shakespeare and Josep Pla, and the funeral of Cervantes. Back in the 90s, UNESCO declared this day as World Book Day.
And that’s why in Sant Jordi you will see how the Ramblas, Paseo de Gracia and the entire city is filled with roses, Catalan flags and books, both the latest publications as works of collector. Enjoy the atmosphere of the day, you will be surprised of how Barcelona becomes a huge library-flower shop outdoors.
As a special recommendation, try to get close to the Palace of the Generalitat: in Sant Jordi it has an open door day
In addition, many authors make signings, so maybe you can meet your favorite writer in any bookstore in the city. Oh, and if you want to get away a bit from the bustle of downtown, we recommend you to take one of your favorite books and go near the Parque de Cervantes: you will find a huge rose garden. Can you think of a better place to celebrate the day of Sant Jordi surrounded by 10,000 rose bushes?