St George day, the Catalan equivalent to Valentine’s Day
April 23 is the day of roses, the book and love. The day of Saint George or Sant Jordi in Catalan is known as “The Day of Lovers” and is usually compared to Valentine’s Day. This day thousands of couples in love celebrate the romanticism that inspires this celebration and invites us to fill with gifts every year. San Jorge is the patron saint of the hundreds of people in Catalonia and the main event of the holiday is the exchange of gifts between couples in love.
Who was St. George?
There are many stories surrounding this character. History books tell us that George of Cappadocia was a Roman soldier born in present-day Turkey in the third century. After receiving Cesar’s order to persecute the Christians, he refused and after his arrest he was tortured and finally beheaded on April 23, 303. He was eventually declared a martyr and then a saint.
This story was taking fame and over the years was moving from one generation to another acquiring San Jorge a greater role. His greatest splendor came in the Middle Ages when in many wars and crusades he was venerated for being the Patron of the Knights. Hence his international fame of this personage at a worldwide level.
St. George and the Dragon
St. George has gone down in history along with the legend of the dragon, a myth that emerged during the Middle Ages. San Jorge is one of the most revered saints in the different Christian beliefs and even in the syncretism in the African-American and Muslim religions of the Middle East, especially Palestine where they call it Sea Giries or Al-Khader.
The scene of his life that has become more popular among the Christian faithful is the legend of the confrontation between St. George and the Dragon. According to the medieval story, there was in Cappadocia a dragon that ravaged the population
To avoid the slaughter of the beast, they decided to deliver a human sacrifice each day, chosen at random among the villagers. But, there was a day when the Princess of the place was the unfortunate winner of that draw. The young nobleman accepted her fate by refusing to be supplanted as a victim of the Dragon by those who offered their lives to save her.
Once in the Cave of the Dragon, when the maiden was about to be eaten, St. Jordi burst in and fought against the beast. Thus it was that George of Cappadocia killed the mythological animal, nailing his sword in the heart.
According to the legend, a flower was born of the blood that sprouted from the dragon. That is why the custom is giving the ladies a red rose on Saint George’s Day.
Gifts on St. George’s Day
The traditional way of giving away this day is that the men give them a rose with an ear of wheat to the women and the women give a book to the men. Due to popular legends roses have been associated since medieval times with this day, but delivering a book is a touch of current marketing.
Already in the days of the Diputación del General in Catalonia, a ceremony was held in the chapel of the Generalitat’s palace, attended by members of the nobility and of the social, political and religious estates of the community. All the women who attended the ceremony were given a rose, as a reference to the Rose Fair.
Why do you give yourself a rose with an ear of wheat and not any other flower?
Because according to tradition, this gift has three characteristics: a single flower, symbolizing the exclusivity of love on the part of the lover, the red color of the rose, symbolizing passion and the ear of wheat, symbolizing fertility. That is why it is an excellent gift to give to a loved one on a day as special as this.
April 23 International Book Day
This tradition began when a bookstore began to promote this day in 1923 due to the death of two geniuses of literature Miguel de Cervantes who was born in Spain and William Shakespeare who was born in England and both died on April 23, 1616. To this century-old tradition, the fact that in 1995, UNESCO also declared on April 23 World Book Day. The first city that adopted the tradition until today was Barcelona
Where can I buy books on Saint George’s Day?
In all the streets of Barcelona, you can see the hundreds of kiosks selling flowers and books for the occasion. At the end of the celebration, it would be difficult to find a woman without a rose in her hand, or a man is walking without his book. Although the Sant Jordi party is not an official Barcelona holiday, most romantics leave the office to wander the beautiful streets of the region enjoying the warm spring time.
What can you do this day if you have no partner?
If you do not have a couple to go out for a walk, there are other things in Barcelona to see and do such as see the dance of the Sardana which is the Catalan regional dance and that is done in the Plaça de Sant Jaume. Attend several readings of books made By its authors that are made in many bookshops and cafeterias or go to the reading marathon of Don Quixote de Cervantes.
This day a tradition is realized with the hundreds of Jordis, Georges, Yuris, Jorge, Gorkas and others whose names are related to the one of Santo. All the people who call themselves that way build a human chain to try to get into the Guinness Book of Records.