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By Regina Winkle-Bryan
On The Scoop we just love Sant Jordi’s Day, the Catalan equivalent to Valentine’s Day. Celebrated every April 23rd, it is a day for lovers, books, and red roses. Sant Jordi is Saint George in English. You may remember him from Saint George and the Dragon. If you pay attention when walking around Barcelona you’ll spot many sculptures featuring Saint George slaying a dragon, or just dragons. He is the patron Saint of Catalonia, but also of many other places.
The tradition on Sant Jordi’s Day is that men buy one single red rose for the important women in their lives (mom, sisters, daughters, wives, lovers) and women buy books for the men in their lives. You may be asking yourself (especially if you are a woman), “What’s up with that?” Yes, it does seem a bit unfair, a rose for a book. Don’t women like to read?
Nowadays this tradition has changed some and women are raking in both the roses and the books. Depending on how many admirers she has, a woman may end up with a nice bouquet of red roses by evening time on Sant Jordi’s.
Though it is not a holiday, Sant Jordi’s Day is a joy-filled and festive date. All the bookshops around the city have stands on the sidewalks and sell books to passersby. Authors are also set up selling and autographing their books in the city center and some authors give talks and readings at cafes and bookshops.
To experience Sant Jordi’s Day like a local, head to Pl. de Catalunya around 6:00 p.m. and walk from the top of La Rambla to the port. There will be crowds. For less people stroll Passeig de Gracia instead. One of our favorite book shops in the city is Laie. They have books in Spanish, Catalan, English, and other languages.
Laie bookstore website: http://www.laie.es/pauclaris