Barcelona Sant Jordi Day or Saint George’s Day is not like any other celebration. In fact, it is the Catalan equivalent to Valentine’s day. Sant Jordi day, taking place on the 23rd of April in Barcelona, is not a public holiday, therefore all shops and restaurants are open as normal. However, you can feel the “fiesta” vibes coming from every single corner and feel the love in the air!
Each year, the streets fill with people strolling around grasping books and roses wrapped in ribbons in the colors of the Catalan flag. The idea is that men give women roses and women give men a book in return. The great thing is that it’s a celebration of love as a whole. Therefore, you can endow anybody you want, not necessarily just your partner. For this occasion, boys usually buy roses for their mums and girls buy books for their friends. Also, in today’s forward-thinking society, the rules are no longer set regarding who gets what. Therefore, a girl is just as likely to receive a book as a boy.
Saint George’s Day roses tradition comes from the story in which gave the princess a red rose, covered in the blood of the dragon he had killed to save the city, that’s why the people compare this feast to Valentine’s day. The tradition of giving books to men was born in 1923 to honor the works of Miguel de Cervantes, Garcilaso de la Vega and William Shakespeare, all famous authors who died on the 23rd of April. Founded in 1995, UNESCO’s international World Book Day has its origins in this Catalan tradition! It accounts for an amazing 10 percent of Catalonia’s annual book sales.
The streets and squares of Barcelona filled with stalls selling books and roses. It is best to head to main squares such as Plaça Sant Jaume, Plaça de Catalunya and large streets such as La Rambla for the best experience. If you’re planning to purchase neither books nor roses, it is worth taking a stroll through Barcelona’s streets just to admire the picturesque decoration. Nearly every building bears the red and gold Catalan flag, while bakeries sell Sant Jordi bread streaked with red Sobrassada sausage pâté. Red roses decorate the Palau de la Generalitat and many statues and paintings of Sant Jordi.
From 15:00 to 20:00, there will be Sardana dancing performance in Plaça Sant Jaume which is definitely worth a visit. Sardana is a traditional Catalan folk dance. Men and women join together in a circle by holding hands and facing inwards to dance.
Moreover, there are only 3 days in the year in which the Ajuntament de Barcelona opens its doors to the public and Sant Jordi day is one of these. You will be able to take a stroll through the and see its interior. The Ajuntament de Barcelona is open until 20:00 for the public to visit.
The celebration of Sant Jordi or Saint George’s Day is a treat for the eyes. Take a stroll, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the day together with your loved ones in a proper Catalan style Valentine’s day.