sant jordi day: love and books

Stroll the streets of Barcelona on Sant Jordi Day and you’ll be bombarded with the  sight of two wonderful things in this world: books and roses.   I happened to be in Barcelona for what must be one of the loveliest festivals in the world.

In English, the day is called Saint George Festival. Every April 23rd, Catalans get ready for what has been dubbed as the Spanish Valentine’s Day or The Day of Lovers.

Sant Jordi Traditions

According to tradition, women give their significant others or novios a book and men give their sweethearts  or novias roses. The concept in general is that men give women a gift of roses and women give a gift of books.  Today, the gift giving isn’t just for lovers and couples.  For the holiday, Catalan men make sure to buy roses for their mothers, daughters and friends while women may buy books for their fathers, sons and friends.  And, with a little break from tradition, a girl is just as likely to receive a book and a boy can get a rose.

I walked out into the streets of Barcelona to see many makeshift stalls selling books, especially on Las Ramblas. Rose peddlers wrap the flowers in ribbons in the colors of the Catalan flag.  I saw so many couples strolling the streets while holding hands, clutching books and admiring lovely red and pink roses.

a day to sell roses


everyone buying books in barcelona @ la rambla
everyone buying books in barcelona @ la rambla

Why Have a Day Dedicated to Love and Books?

The day commemorates the chivalrous tale of Saint George who is the patron saint of Catalonia.  He rescued a princess from the dragon and gave her a rose.  The book gift giving tradition came about because April 23rd also commemorates the death one of one of Spain’s greatest writers, Miguel de Cervantes the author of the wonderful novel Don Quixote.  In essence, the day melds the story of Saint George and the memory of Miguel de Cervantes to create a beautiful tradition in a big city.

Where to go on Sant Jordi Day:

During the festival day, book and rose seller stalls crop up all over town. The largest concentration of them are at the largest squares.  Of course, La Rambla is the heart of it all.  If you want to avoid the La Rambla crowds, the other squares mentioned below would do just fine too.

Place Sant Juame

Metro Juame

Yellow Line, L4

Plaza Catalunya

Metro: Catalunya

Red Line, L1 or Green Line, L3

La Rambla

Metro Drassanes

Green Line, L3

Metro Liceu

Green Line, L3

Metro Catalunya

Green Line, L3

Sant Jordi is not a public holiday so all of the shops and restaurants are open as usual. It’s just a great day to be in Barcelona.

So, I ask you…

What could be better than a festival like San Jordi Day, a day devoted to love and books?  Have you experienced any great urban festivals?

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