23rd of April in Barcelona, Spain

Saint George’s Day or “La Diada de Sant Jordi” is the most romantic day of the year in Barcelona! It comprises the equivalent to Valentine’s Day in English speaking countries and is celebrated across Catalonia on the 23rd of April annually. It is held in commemoration of Saint George (Sant Jordi), the Patron Saint of Barcelona, who died on the same date back in the year 303.

On Saint George’s Day in Barcelona it is customary for sweethearts to exchange gifts. Men get a book whilst women traditionally receive a rose. “A rose for love and a book forever”. However, today it is not uncommon for women to receive a book as well. This is the reason for which Saint George’s Day is also more popularly known as “El dia del Libro” (The Day of the Book), “El Dia de la Rosa” (The Day of the Rose) or “el Dia de los Amantes” (Lovers’ Day).

The Legend of Saint George

Behind all this chivalry is a fascinating little tale. This special day is inspired by the legend of Saint George. A terrible dragon terrorised the inhabitants of Montblanc, a small village in Catalonia. To appease the beast, a person was sacrificed to the dragon every day by drawing lots. One day the King’s daughter was chosen to be sacrificed but, just before she was about to be eaten up, a brave knight appeared who slayed the fearful dragon. This was Saint George himself who then plucked a red rose from the bush that had sprouted from the dragon’s blood and handed it to the fair princess.

Saint George’s Day Activities

If you are fortunate enough to be in Barcelona on Saint George’s Day and would like to partake in this lovely tradition, you will find makeshift book stores and rose vendors popping up everywhere across the Catalan capital especially Las Ramblas and Rambla de Catalunya. The locals also typically celebrate with traditional dancing (the Sardana), which is usually performed on Plaça Sant Jaume, where Barcelona City Hall is located.

The City Hall is open to the public on this special day so that visitors may admire the rose adorned interior. Finally, cafes and bars host readings by authors whilst visitors will find musicians and street performers adding to the cheery atmosphere of the most romantic day of the year in Barcelona. Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi!

 

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