17/4 The knight and martyr of a legend: Sant Jordi

When spring rolls around it brings the heat and love is in the air. In reality the Catalans know how to do it right. Not for the heat brought about in late April, but for Sant Jordi, the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day.

The following 23 of April, Sant Jordi the knight, roman soldier, and patron of the city will be celebrated throughout Barcelona and all of Cataluña. Sant Jordi is a tradition where the streets of the Catalan capital will be filled with roses and book sellers because in fact the 23is also World Book Day.

The Catalan tradition of giving roses arose in the fifteenth century from a fairytale. An evil dragon lived in Montblanc, one of the most important mediaeval villages in Cataluña, and to calm his rage the townspeople would make sacrifices of a person chosen at random. One day, the King’s daughter was chosen by the lottery, but the knight Sant Jordi killed the dragon to save the princess. From the blood of the dragon spilt on the ground grew a beautiful red rose, and from then on Men gave roses to Women as a sign of passion, admiration, and affection.

The book tradition does not have anything to do with the Sant Jordi legend, but arose from the brilliant idea of the Valenciano writer and editor, Vicent Clavel Andrés, who proposed to institutionalize a day such as Book Day until in 1930 it was decided that 23 of April would commemorate the death of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Sant Jordi also converted, therefore, as not only a day for lovers, but an opportunity for book editors to increase their percentage of literary production for the year. Editors take advantage of the event to present new literature, especially Catalan novels.

And why overall Catalan novels you ask? Because, Sant Jordi is much more than love and books, it is a cultural celebration and a part of the Catalan identity. If you pass through Barcelona you will see the city covered in red and yellow: the colors of the Catalan flag. It is a special day to wander throughout the city and take in all its’ splendor. Walk down Rambla Cataluña, Paseo de Gracia, or las Ramblas and you will see the real Sant Jordi. Hotel Omm, is located near the heart of the festivities (Paseo de Gracia and Roselló). You can come rest, read a book, and enjoy a good cocktail in the Roca Bar, open all day. Roca Bar also serves food from 13h to 1h in the morning.

Come and walk the streets and corners of our city and enjoy the Day of the Rose and the Day of the Book with the initial heat of summer.