La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain

La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain

La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain

On April 23, La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day) is celebrated in Catalonia, and Barcelona shows a big cultural display on this special celebration.

According to popular tradition, Sant Jordi was a Roman soldier decapitated for refusing to persecute Christians. Shortly after, he became venerated as a martyr and fantastic stories about him began to appear. The most popular legend in Catalonia about Sant Jordi tells that at Montblanc there was a fierce dragon which took human sacrifices to be pacified, until misfortune fell on to the king’s daughter who was to be sacrificed to appease the dragon. However, the knight challenged the dragon and killed it. From the dragon’s blood a rosebush grew and Sant Jordi gave the most beautiful one to the princess. Today, Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia.

La Diada de Sant Jordi is also known as El Día de la Rosa, El Día del Libro, o El Día de los Enamorados, as on this day, traditionally a rose and a book are offered as gifts among lovers, but also among friends and family.

Roses have been linked to this day since Medieval times. However, books started to be offered as gifts in 1923, when a sharp bookseller launched a special promotion in honour of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, both of whom died on April 23, 1616.

There are many things to be seen and done in Barcelona on April 23!

– Have breakfast with the traditional Sant Jordi bread, which can be found in every bakery on Sant Jordi, and it’s easily identified by the red and yellow stripes in the bread.

– Go roses & books shopping. In Las Ramblas, as well as all over the city, flower stands and bookstalls crowd the sidewalks. Each April 23, about four million roses and 400,000 books are sold, which is half of the total yearly book sales of Catalonia!

– Get famous books read to you. Many cafes, patisseries and book stores organize book-reading-events of noted Spanish writers, including a 24-hour marathon reading of Cervantes’ Don Qujote. Enjoy the Spanish literature with a nice café con leche or, if really hungry, a tasty chocolate con churros.

– Watch the formation of the human chain made of hundreds of Barcelonians named after Sant Jordi, including all its possible variations such as George, Yuri, Jorge, Gorka, Jordan, Xurxo, Geordie, etc. The idea is to form the longest human chain to make it to the Guinnes Book of World Records.

– Don’t miss a visit to the Palau de la Generalitat – Barcelona’s principal government building in the Plaça de Sant Jaume, in the Gothic Quarter. The City Hall is open to the public only during La Diada de Sant Jordi. With a free entrance you can admire the huge displays of roses honouring Sant Jordi, as well as the awesome Gothic architecture

– Learn about the Sardana, Catalonia’s national dance, as it is performed in the Plaça Sant Joan, in the Gracia neighbourhood. At 6:30 p.m. Catalonians gather in front of a live band to dance late into the night. If you are able to follow the steps, which are more complex than they seem, you are welcome to join the circle and dance along!

You may enjoy Barcelona and its festivities while you learn Spanish at TANDEM Barcelona!


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