Sant Jordi’s day is one of my favourite celebrations in Barcelona. I like walking around and enjoying the atmosphere of the city. I like watching happy people carrying a rose on their hands and buying books.
Yesterday I went down town to have a walk around the streets in Barcelona. Sant Jordi’s day (Saint George’s day) it’s a sort of St. Valentines day in Catalunya but I also think it’s a day when people celebrate spring and the arriving of good weather. People go out to buy books and roses and it doesn’t matter if you are married, have a boyfriend or girlfriend or if you are single.
April 23rd was when the most famous international Spanish writer passed away (Miguel de Cervantes) and that same day, another international author died: William Shakespeare. That’s why that day it is the book’s day.
On the other hand, Saint George is considered the Saint who protects Catalunya. There is a popular legend about the story of a princess an knight and a dragon. To summarize, a princess was kidnapped by a dragon and a knight (called Jordi – George in English) went to rescue her. He fought against the beast and nail his sword into the dragon’s heart. From that bound a rose was born. And finally the princess was rescued thanks to Saint George.
Because of this legend, Catalans buy roses during St. Jordi’s day.
So basically, during this day boys give a rose to their girlfriends and girls give a book to their boyfriends as a present.
But what I like about this day is that it goes further than a sort of a St. Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter your marital status. Yes, boyfriends and girlfriends are happy during this day, but I think that Catalans like going out enjoying the nice weather in spring and buying a rose or a book for someone else as a matter of affect and love. Your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, a good friend of yours…. Even in some workplaces bosses give roses and books to their employees.
So, if you ever have the opportunity to stay in Barcelona during St. Jordi’s day, you’ll see on the streets lots of roses, books, Catalan flags and happy people.
Now, few tips for enjoying St. Jordi’s day in Barcelona:
Avoid crowds: The main streets will be plenty of stands with books and roses. That includes Passeig de Gràcia, Las Ramblas and Rambla Catalunya. St. George’s day is a labour day in Catalunya, so people go to the centre after leaving work, at 6 pm. From there until 9 pm is when all those 3 streets will be more crowded. That’s why I would recommend you to visit the streets in the centre before 6 pm and maybe it would be better to go there during the morning.
There are some nice special activities during the day. Take a look at the website www.bcn.cat the day before to check out which activities are you interested in. Like visiting the Catalan parliament or the city hall for free, watching some Castellers (human towers) in the Plaça Sant Jaume and stuff like that.
During this day, libraries offer 10% discount on books. Despite this discount, I would tell you to buy your book before that day to avoid cues, or maybe to check out the days before which books would you really want to buy and that day go directly to the store with the idea of buying that book and without having to start looking for something that takes your attention.
Some years roses are expensive that day. Yesterday rose’s price was about 3-4 euros / unit (the year before were around 6 euros). I’ll give you 2 options for buying a rose a bit cheaper. The first option would be not buying the rose in the centre of Barcelona. And the second one would be to wait until 9-10 pm, when sellers want to get rid of all the roses that they have in stock. Yesterday at 8.30 pm the price was 1 euro next to my parent’s (not in the center).
Avoid starting your walk at Plaza Catalunya during the afternoon and going down to Las Ramblas. Instead, go to Rambla Catalunya with Diagonal and start going down direction to Plaza Catalunya. You’ll see that the closer you’ll be to Plaza Catalunya, the more crowded the streets will be.
The last thing. I thing that I hate, but it exist. Keep an eye on your bags and walets. Nothing to be scared about it, but pickpockets love crowds and distractions. Nothing never happened to me or to my friends, but be awared of that, ok?
Happy Sant Jordi’s day!
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