Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Book and a Rose - Celebrating Saint George's Day in Catalonia


(pics taken this morning)


Today is Sant Jordi (Saint George Day), a very special festivity in Catalonia. 

Hard to understand for those who have never experienced it, Saint George's Day is a popular festive day when book and rose stalls, and, above all, floods of people, take over the streets of all Catalan towns and villages. The celebration could not be simpler: the ritual consists of going for a walk and buying a rose, a book or both to give to loved ones, family members and friends. Although it is not a public holiday, the day and the essential walk fill the streets and squares, making it a unique national festival celebrated on a working day.

The origin of this unusual festival can be found in a mixture of traditions and customs from different periods. The fact that Saint George (Sant Jordi) is the patron saint of Catalonia (officially since 1456, although he was being venerated as early as the 8th century) coincides with another medieval custom of celebrating a Rose Fair or "Lovers' Fair" at the Palau de la Generalitat.

To these more traditional celebrations was added Book Day, established throughout Spain in 1926. The literary celebration ended up mixing with the Catalan traditions to create a special day which has won widespread public support.









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