Feliç Sant Jordi! This year we are experiencing a different Sant Jordi than previous festive ones when the streets of Barcelona is full of people and smells like rose and old books all around. A usual day of Sant Jordi in other words Saint George’s Day would attract your visual and olfactory senses while walking around the city in the beautiful weather of April, seeing people giving roses and books to each other. Since today we celebrate this Catalan Valentine’s Day in our homes, let’s focus on the legend of Sant Jordi.
What is the buzz about Diada de Sant Jordi, why do people give roses and books to each other, and what’s the story behind it?
There are several traditions forming the Catalan Culture. The food, the music, the drinks, the festivals, the architecture… everything together is part of a lifestyle. As every year, and as a big part of this tradition, on the 23rd of April is Diada de Sant Jordi, the patron of Catalonia. This is one of the most important celebrations here but… Do you know the whole story behind it?
The Legend of Sant Jordi
According to legend, there was a terrifying dragon located in the village of Montblanc, southwest of Barcelona. Everyone was angry and sad about this dragon because the dragon was always hungry and therefore, a big threat for the people. So they gave him one animal a day to keep it from attacking the village. However, one day the dragon ate the last of the animals but was still hungry. To satisfy the hunger, the dragon started eating the people of the village. In order to prevent a big massacre, the people of the village decided to randomly choose a person every day to be sacrificed to the beast. The king was trying to find the strongest men to kill the dragon, but their fate was always the same, another victim for the dragon.
One day, King’s nightmare turned into reality and the princess’ name came up. Although that made the King very sad, he desperately sent her to the dragon. But just when the dragon was about to eat the princess, a brave and handsome knight, known as Sant Jordi, rode into town. He fought with the dragon in its cove and despite the furious fire of the dragon, Sant Jordi killed the beast with his spear, saving the princess’ life.
From the blood of the dragon, there grew a rose bush, and Sant Jordi took a red rose and gave it to the princess as a sign of his love. Everybody in the village was very happy the dragon was dead and they lived peacefully ever after.(Source)
This seems like the reason behind the tradition where “men give a rose to their loved ones whether it’s their girlfriend, wife, sister, or mother while women give books to men. We know it’s too traditional to happen in the 21st century, but as you expect many people in Barcelona nowadays give roses and books to whomever they want regardless of any social construction of gender.
Now that you know the legend, it is time to live it by yourself today! Even if it’s only with your flatmates, give your favorite books to each other to enjoy this week. Send virtual roses to your loved ones online and spread love everywhere.
Brace yourselves because you will see every street full of people (of course in the distance and with masks), books, and flowers. Visit La Rambla and Plaça Sant Jaume, where the largest concentration of people and activities take place; Go to see the outside of Casa Batlló full of red roses and other activities such as street festivals that the municipalities and companies may organise. And just keep walking around to see Barcelona as you never see it before!
Once again, Happy Sant Jordi!