Made in Catalonia: diada de Sant Jordi (St George's Day)

Sant Jordi (Saint George) is one of the most important traditions celebrated in Catalonia and, if you happen to be in Barcelona on April 23rd, you will see the magnitude of the event. On that day, boys give roses to girls and girls offer a book to boys. It is not only something you do for your lover, you can give a rose to friends, family, etc. All streets in any Catalan city are covered by roses and book this day.

Sant Jordi (a.k.a Saint Geroge) is the Patron Saint of all Catalans and, as so, Catalan people celebrate the date of his death, April 23rd. A Patron Saint is a saint that protects a certain group of people that have something in common (a city, a clan, a place, a nation or even an activity). Catalan people consider Saint George their patron since the 15th century, when the celebrations towards this saint started. It is said that one of the old Catalan kings invoked him before reconquering Osca from the Muslims, and the Catalan king made him the saint patron of the Catalan army after their victory. As years went by, he became the Saint Patron of all the nation and his legend became popular.

The legend says that there was a little town that was being slowly destroyed by a dragon. To stop the dragon attacking them, the inhabitants of the city decided to offer an animal each day to the dragon to eat. Months went by and the beast ate all the sheeps, donkeys and hens of the village. They had nothing else to offer so they decided that they would offer one of the village inhabitants instead. They wrote down the names of all the inhabitants, put them in a sack and someone took one of the papers. That person would be the first one eaten by the dragon. They unfolded the paper and the name of the princess appeared. All the village was devastated, since the princes was a very kind, beautiful and innocent young girl. Immediately, several people offered themselves to be sacrificed instead of the princess, but the king said that if her name was the one to be chosen, nobody could change that. Early in the morning, the princess got ready and went to the place where they always left the sacrifice for the dragon. After a while, they saw the dragon approaching, ready to take his victim. When he was almost there, a knight on horseback with a lance appeared. He was Saint George, and he had had a revelation about the village and their problems and he had come to help them. He killed the dragon with his lance and from the blood that went out, a rosebush with red roses appeared almost immediately. He took one of the roses and gave it to the princess, who was saved. The King, who watched everything from his castle, the asked the young knight to marry his daughter but Saint George refused it, saying that he didn't deserve such a beauty.

The rose that boys give to the girls represents the one that Saint George gave to the princess when he killed the dragon.

As for the books, the first time that we celebrated April 23rd as the book day was on 1926, when a Valencian writer called Vicent Clavel asked the Spanish king at that time to do it. He chose this day as it was the day when Cervantes, one of Spain's greatest writers, died.

Bookshops in Les Rambles

Oriol Garcia signing his comic books 

Any place is a good place to sell roses. 

 Bona diada de Sant Jordi!

2 comentarios:

  1. Feliç diada des de Suècia! Hauré de començar a exportar la tradició, perquè no saben el que es perden

  2. Thanks for educating the rest of the world on important cultural facts that other media does not care to mention.
    Little traditions like these that paint a beautiful picture of your culture.



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