La Diada de Sant Jordi

La Diada de Sant Jordi or Saint George's Day is celebrated in Barcelona on the 23rd of April. Sometimes it is also called "el dia de la rosa" (The Day of the Rose) or "el dia del llibre" (The Day of the Book).

Sant Jordi - Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona
Saint Jordi (Saint George)

It is Barcelona's Valentine's Day. Saint George is the patron saint of Catalonia. As to the legend, Saint George killed a dragon which was about to eat the princess south of Barcelona. Out of dragon's blood a rose bush grow. Saint George gave roses of that bush to the princess.

Traditional Rose Festival honouring romantic love and chivalry has been organized in Barcelona since the Middle Ages. In 1932 people united the festival with local International Book Day. They thought it was suitable to do it and mark the anniversary of death of two giants of world literature Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. They both died on the 23rd of April, 1616.

New tradition was created. Men give beautiful roses to their ladies and they give them books in return. Catalan people say "a rose for love and a book forever". Nowadays it is common that women beside roses get books too. On average four million roses and 500,000 books are sold in whole Catalonia.

La Diada de Sant Jordi
Stalls with books

La Rambla, famous street in central Barcelona, is full of stalls with books. In Catalan the name of the street means an intermittent water flow. The word is derived from Arab "ramla" which means a sandy riverbed. Numerous stalls with books are put in other parts of Catalonia too.

Many writers stand beside the stalls ready to sign their books. There is also a tradition of 24-hour reading of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cerventes.

La Diada de Sant Jordi
Special rose arrangements

Roses are presented in a special way. Together with roses people put a spike of wheat and small red and yellow Catalonian flag called "senyera". There are also ribbons with printed words like "Sant Jordi" ("Saint George"), "Diada de la Rosa" ("Day of the Rose") and "t'estimo" ("I love you").

In the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi city district of Barcelona flower dealers organize presentation of 45 different roses. These roses symoblize different sort of love like for example impossible or material.

The Sardana is a dance of Catalonia. There are two main Sardanes - the traditional sardana curta (short sardana) and the more modern sardana llarga (long sardana). The modern one is more popular today. The Sardana has been popular since the 16th century. Music for the sardana is played by a band called "la cobla".

Why the Sardana is mentioned here? Well, on La Diada de Sant Jordi it is danced at the Plaça Sant Jaume.

Plaça del Pi
Plaça del Pi (Square of the Pine)

There is more music. When walking through Barcelona on the 23rd of April you can among others hear beautiful choral singing in the Gothic Quarter or great jazz performances at Plaça del Pi.

Palau de la Generalitat
Palau de la Generalitat

La Diada de Sant Jordi is the only day when the Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona's main government building, is open to visitors. A huge display of roses honouring Saint George can be seen there.

There is also a lovely tradition of creating a human chain by people who were named after Saint George. They are trying to enter the Guinness Book of Records.

This beautiful festival of roses and books became sort of Catalonian export to the world. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ) decided that the 23rd of April is World Book and Copyright Day.