It's neither Christmas, nor Easter, nor Sant Joan, the really important day for the Catalans, is April 23rd, St. Jordi's day. He is the patron Saint of Catalonia and other communities and cities of Spain, and is celebrated with special enthusiasm in Barcelona.
Where does this celebration come from?
The legend states that a long time ago a cruel dragon had settled in the city of Montblanc (Tarragona) and had terrified its inhabitants, who, at a chosen day, handed him one person to satisfy his hunger.
One day, this randomly chosen person was the town's princess, who, even though had a royal title, had to be eaten by the dragon. Yet, just as the dragon approached her, a knight named Jordi appeared, he raised his sword and killed the dragon.
From the dragon's blood blooms a rose, the reddest rose even seen. Jordi handed it to the princess, which gave rise to this popular tradition.
What are the activities on April 23rd?
The tradition says that women receive roses, and men receive books. Which is perfect timing as April 23rd is best known for being World Book Day, and also the death date for two literary masters: English playwright William Shakespeare and Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes.
If you want to participate in this custom, you will find more than 4,000 stalls selling roses and another 1,000 books. Stroll through the streets of the capital, enter the bookstores, buy the famous Sant Jordi's Coca, and cherish the day because April 23rd it is celebrated in every corner of Barcelona.
How do you celebrate Sant Jordi in Barcelona?
Although giving roses and books are the main thing, there are much more things to do these days in Barcelona. To begin with, La Casa Batlló was created from the legend of Sant Jordi. The building is decorated with red roses, making your visit an unforgettable experience.
If music is your thing, the party will be at the Antiga Fàbrica Estrella Damm in Barcelona, with 8 hours of uninterrupted music from 11:30. They will act more than 30 groups and in the end, the artists will sign their albums.
If you are a movie lover, do not miss the Barcelona-Sant Jordi International Film Festival (BCN Film Fest), which starts on the 23rd and ends on the 30th of April. With a program of more than 50 films related to history, literature, and cinema.
The solitary side comes from the hand of the Banc de Sang i Teixits, the libraries of Barcelona and the City Hall, where blood can be donated throughout the day. Also, if you do, you will receive a rose.
¡Feliç Sant Jordi!