A date for the diary
La Diada de Sant Jordi, also known as el dia de la rosa (The Day of the Rose)
or el dia del llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23 April,
with similarities to Valentine's Day and some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of the celebrations.
If you notice someone's face is
Looking rather low
Come along beside them
And let your caring show
Place your arm around them
And give a little squeeze
There's nothing like a hug to
Give the heart some ease!
The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men abook to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616.Barcelona is the publishing capital of both Catalan and Spanish languages and the combination of love and literacy was quickly adopted.
In Barcelona's most visited street, La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been purchased. Most women will carry a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.
The sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, is performed throughout the day in the Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona. Many book stores and cafes host readings by authors (including 24-hour marathon readings of Cervantes'
"Don Quixote"). Street performers and musicians in public squares add to the day's atmosphere.
23 April is also the only day of the year when the Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona's principal government building, is open to the public. The interior is decorated with roses to honour Saint George.
The ancient Crown of Aragon, the Feast of St George is celebrated enthusiastically in the Community of Aragon, being the country's patron saint and its national day.
On 23 April, Aragon celebrates its "Diya d'Aragón" (Day of Aragon) in commemoration of the Battle of Alcoraz (Baralla d'Alcoraz in Aragoneese), on which Huesca was conquered by the Aragonese army and in which tradition says that St George appeared at a critical moment for theChristian Army, aiding them to win it for the "True Faith".
As in Catalonia, roses and books are exchanged among individuals, often bearing ribbons with the colours of Aragon's flag.
England - St.Georges Day
A traditional custom at this time was to wear a red rose in one's lapel,
though with changes in fashion this is no longer common.
Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way:
pubs in particular can be seen on 23 April festooned with garlands of St George's crosses.
St George's Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries,
and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint.
Most countries which observe St George's Day celebrate it on 23 April,
the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in 303 AD.
This day is May 6 for Eastern Orthodox Old Calendarists, who use the Julian calendar.
St George in Barcelona:
The famous legend about Saint George presents him as the heroic soldier and knight who fought the dragon that lived in a lake and had a whole city in Libya terrified. The animal demanded two lambs to eat every day, in order to not approach the city. Eventually, the farmers began to run out of sheep, and decided to feed the beast a person instead, to be chosen through a daily lottery. One day, the King’s daughter “won” the lottery, but just as the beast was about to eat her, Saint George intervened and saved her. Because of this act, Saint George is the Patron Saint of Chivalry. The Legend of Saint George was written in the 13th century by Jacopo della Voragine in his celebrated work “The Golden Legend”.
This mythical tale dates back to around the eleventh century. Sant Jordi, a multi-talented man who would have been considered quite a catch in modern day times. He was a Roman soldier, Christian martyr, dragon slayer and model of medieval chivalry, who offered his protection to nations and cities around the world.
While there are many different versions of this story, in Catalonia, legend has it that Sant Jordi rescued a beautiful princess by slaying a dragon, and in that moment a single rose bloomed from the monster’s blood; hence the tradition of women receiving roses. On this day, Barcelona’s main boulevards erupt in color, as flower stands take over the town, and hopeless romantics buy a symbol of love for their sweethearts. By evening you’ll unlikely see a woman without a rose in hand.
Centuries ago, in the Middle Ages, the nobility organized jousting tournaments in the Born neighbourhood, in the centre of the Catalan capital. During these contests, young ladies were presented with gifts of roses and other flowers.
The concurrence of World Book Day and the Festival of Saint George is no accident. The first Book Day was celebrated on October 7th 1926, in commemoration of the birth of Miguel de Cervantes. The writer and editor Vicente Clavel Andrés, a native of Valencia living in Barcelona, proposed the idea to the Official Chamber of Booksellers and Publishers of Barcelona.
On February 6th 1926, the Spanish government accepted the proposal and King Alfonso XIII signed the royal decree that formally established “Spanish Book Day.”
In 1930, the date was changed to April 23rd to commemorate the anniversary of Cervantes’ death. Of course Miguel de Cervantes had very much to do with Barcelona; it was the city to which he offered tremendous praise in his masterpiece “Don Quijote de la Mancha” and in which the protagonist visited a printing press. In 1995, UNESCO established April 23rd as World Book and Copyright Day. Approximately 80 nations world-wide celebrate World Book Day on or around this date, although Great Britain and Ireland hold the festival on the 14th of March. We must not forget that April 23rd also marks the death of the great Catalan writer Josep Pla as well as that of the masterful English playwright William Shakespeare, who died in 1616.
The people of Barcelona still maintain the tradition of giving a rose to their loved ones or friends, relatives and colleagues during the traditional celebration, Diada de Sant Jordi, which is held throughout Catalonia on 23rd April every year.
The event attracts large crowds and is even more colorful in Barcelona, particularly on La Rambla. The famous boulevard which stretches down to the port is packed with stalls selling books and flowers from the early hours of the morning. People soon flock there to take a stroll and fulfill the tradition: men give the ladies a rose and ladies give the men a book. Is the day when bookshop owners and publishers report their highest sales, and it gives readers a unique opportunity to meet their favourite authors, as many of them take part in open-air book signings.
Diada de Sant Jordi is bursting with emotion and history, as it ties in with the legend of Saint George, the knight who killed a dragon to rescue a princess. And the fact is, on this day, romanticism and culture come together in a single emotion for Sant Jordi.
love and light