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Curious about the day of roses and books? | 28 mei 2018

Rebecca Renée is one of our Swedish students and now studying in Barcelona. Read her blog about the lovely tradition of St Jordi day in Barcelona.

St Jordi day in Barcelona

February 14th people celebrate Valentine’s day and on this day you are supposed to show your love to your loved one by exchanging gifts, like a bouquet roses or some chocolate.  Valentine’s day is usually for people who are in a relationship and often this day is dreadful for singles. Therefore, I propose everyone should celebrate St Jordi day like the Catalans do in Barcelona! 

Books and Roses

On the 23rd of April the Catalans celebrate St Jordi day, also known as St Georges day. This day is the Catalonian equivalent of Valentine’s day and traditionally people will exchange roses and books on this day. The original concept was that women receive a rose and give a book to a man or a son gives a rose to their mother and the son receives a book. Nowadays it’s not only girl and boyfriends exchanging gifts as the rules are not set in stone and society has modernised in the meantime. You can also give a rose or a book to a loving friend or family member. So, you show your love to someone close to you and a girl can receive a book or a rose and it is the same for men.

Gaudi building

It’s truly a wonderful day as the streets are filled with people holding books or roses and also the famous Gaudi building will be decorated with roses. People walk on the picturesque streets looking at the various stalls that the city is filled with to either buy a wrapped rose or a book for someone special.  

Hero Saint George

The story goes that Saint George, who was a hero, saved a beautiful princess who was about to come to an end at the hands of a dragon who had been terrorising a village. There are various versions of the story, but these facts always remain the same.

You are probably wondering why the Catalans exchange a book on this specific day. Well, in 1926, Spain declared the 23rd of April as the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, who was the most famous Spanish writer, as the book day. Something similar England did for Shakespeare; hence, England respected the 23rd of April since it was the day Shakespeare passed away. However, due to the fact that their famous author passed away that day it was not for much later the day of love also became the day of literature in the mind of the citizens of Barcelona and Catalonia.  

Give a gift to someone special

So why only celebrate Valentine’s day for couples and not celebrate for anyone close to you? We should do like the Catalans on St. Georges day and give a rose or a book to a loving friend or family member. So, next year on the 23rd of April or on Valentine’s day I recommend everyone to give a wrapped rose or a book to someone special, both girls and boys!

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