On April 23rd, the traditional Sant Jordi's Day (or St. George's Day) will once again be celebrated. This special day is traditionally celebrated in different regions of the world and throughout Catalonia, namely Barcelona, as this is the main city that hosts different venues and social events. Sant Jordi Day is, therefore, a very important date to go out in the streets and take part in the intense social atmosphere that is experienced in some of the best known parts of Barcelona. The central focus of the day will obviously be in La Rambla.
But before we go into details about this special day, it is worth reviewing the interesting story behind Sant Jordi. From the outset, Sant Jordi (or St. George) is the patron saint of Catalonia and the former Crown of Aragon, since King Peter I won the Alcoraz Battle with his patronage. According to legend, Sant Jordi slew a dragon by fiercely stabbing his sword into it in order to rescue a princess and from the dragon's blood a rose was born. Catalan lovers take advantage of this special day to give a red rose to one another. Since 1929, the tradition of rose giving expanded to include women giving men a book, thanks to inspiration from the great Spanish writer, Miguel Cervantes.
The national and international resonance of Sant Jordi Day has become very prominent since its inception, to the point that in 1995, UNESCO declared April 23rd as the World Book and Copyright Day. April 23rd is still to this day the most important date for the book publishing industry, both in terms of book promotions and revenue sales.
So, how does the Sant Jordi Day get celebrated in Barcelona? In recent years, traditions have adapted to social changes. Thus, the roles have been completely reversed (women can give men roses and men can do the same with books), and the gift giving tradition is no longer confined to just couples. In fact, friends and family can be equally graceful by gifting a rose, a book, or both to one another.
Celebrating literature and promoting reading are some of the main activities scheduled for April 23rd. In addition to La Rambla, bookshops and publishers' booths - some of which will feature renowned authors - will be installed in other symbolic points of the city (such as Avenida Diagonal, for example). What's more, the organizers of the event have recently confirmed that the area dedicated to the Book Fair will be expanded. With regard to rose stands, they will be found in other parts of Ciutat Vella, not just in La Rambla.
Another old Catalan medieval custom is to visit Catalonia's Sant Jordi chapel in the Palace of Generalitat, which will be celebrating an open day. However, this will not be the only historic building open to the public. There will also be public access to Patio de Los Naranjos and Salón Dorado. What's more, the headquarters of the Barcelona City Council will allow free tours of its premises and the Sagrada Familia temple will have special opening hours. It is still pending official confirmation, but it is assumed that entry to some of the most important museums in Barcelona will be free of charge or they will offer significant discounts on 23rd of April.
Music and street shows will also make an appearance, especially in the exhibition of Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance, which will take place in Plaza de San Jaume between 3:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Entry to the street show will also be completely free. Another tradition is the Sant Jordi Musical festival that awaits all those who come to Antigua Fábrica de Estrella Damm (the old factory).
The 2018 Sant Jordi Day will once again be an excellent opportunity to discover some local culinary traditions. The star food of the day is the bread of Sant Jordi. This salty cake (which is also served as a snack) is a combination of dough, sobrassada (raw sausage) and cheese. The most striking thing about Sant Jordi bread is how it resembles the flag of Catalonia because of its ingredients. This bread can be found in most pastry shops and bakeries in the centre of Barcelona.
At Engel & Völkers in Barcelona, we are preparing some interesting events for the upcoming April 23rd and will be giving a rose to our clients who visit one of our property shops in Barcelona.
Happy Sant Jordi's Day!