Sant Jordi or Catalan Valentine’s Day

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Catalonia’s Valentine’s day is approaching again! In this blog post you will learn a little bit about the history of this national holiday and its traditions, so you can join the locals in the celebrations!

Saint George (San Jorge in Spanish and Sant Jordi in Catalan) is the patron of Catalonia, England, Georgia, Greece and many other countries and cities, but also of scouting. He supposedly died on April 23rd, 303 as a martyr and saint. Some say he never existed as the first sources about him only appeared a century after his death, but he is nonetheless one of the most popular saints.

The legend says that he killed a dragon to save the king’s daughter from being offered and a rose blossomed from the dragon’s blood. Sant Jordi then offered the rose to the princess. The tradition of offering roses to one’s girlfriend goes back many centuries and this is the reason why this day is often seen as Valentine’s Day.

Nowadays, April 23th is also the International Day of the Book. The tradition to offer one’s boyfriend or husband a book on this day started at the beginning of the 20th century, to commemorate the simultaneous deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, two world-famous writers who died on April 23th, 1616.

In Barcelona, you will find hundreds of stands on the street selling roses and books, because Catalans believe that “a rose is for love and a book forever”. On Plaça Sant Jaume, you can enjoy the Catalan dance “sardana” and you can exceptionally visit the Palau de la Generalitat, which will be decorated with hundreds of roses. Furthermore, you can listen to the 24-hour Don Quixote marathon or enjoy the many spectacles in Barcelona’s streets. And if you are named after Saint George (for example, if your name is George, Jordi, Yuri, Jorge, Gorka, etc), join the human chain and attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records!

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