Barcelona, a photo a day

Books, dragons and roses: la diada de Sant Jordi

La Diada de Sant Jordi (Catalan pronunciation: [ɫə ðiˈaðə ðə ˈsaɲ ˈʒɔrði], Saint George’s Day), also known as El dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23 April, with similarities to Valentine’s Day and some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of the celebrations. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—”a rose for love and a book forever.” In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition originating in 1923, when a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23 April 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital of both Catalan and Spanish languages and the combination of love and literacy was quickly adopted.
In Barcelona’s most visited street, La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been purchased. Most women will carry a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.
The sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, is performed throughout the day in the Plaça Sant Jaume in Barcelona. Many book stores and cafes host readings by authors (including 24-hour marathon readings of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”). Street performers and musicians in public squares add to the day’s atmosphere.
23 April is also the only day of the year when the Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona’s principal government building, is open to the public. The interior is decorated with roses to honour Saint George.
Catalonia exported its tradition of the book and the rose to the rest of the world. In 1995, the UNESCO adopted 23 April as World Book and Copyright Day.

 And yes, Mandy had her magnificent rose, and I got a sumptuous (cook)book.

Our World on Tuesday

14 responses

  1. Umm, can the custom be changed for girls like me who'd rather get books? 🙂

    About the dragon's pose: that's how I feel about books and stories!


    April 28, 2012 at 6:17 am

  2. Love the idea of this holiday.It looks to be fun a=for all ages. As always your colors are beautifully bright and cheery. You always give us such nice picture to look at and enjoy. genie


    April 26, 2012 at 1:45 am

  3. VP

    Interesting story… and perfect presents for both of you!


    April 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  4. Any day that celebrates books is a good day to me.. and come on Rob, Mandy should have a rose many more times in the year!!


    April 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm

  5. Interesting post and I love that photo of the flower vendor. Would have loved to buy one. 😀


    April 25, 2012 at 2:39 am

  6. Bright beautiful colours. – Margy


    April 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm

  7. Wonderful photos of a great tradition unbeknownst to me! Thanks for the fine instructional commentary. Do you also celebrate Valentine's Day?


    April 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm

  8. oh, i wish we had such a day here!!!


    April 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

  9. JM

    The installation is amazing!

    Thank you for quoting Camões yesterday! 🙂


    April 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm

  10. Very interesting. I had never heard of that story although (as you know better than I do) our cities are “jumelles.”

    Grosses bises to Mandy and you.

    This is a link to a page in which you can get some information about the famous Pathé rooster:

    The webmaster of “les rues de montpellier” is “Francis Lopez” (not the compositeur d'opérettes) 🙂


    April 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm

  11. Impressive sculpture.You did a great article here, congratulations!


    April 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm

  12. EC

    Que de souvenirs! je garde une emouvant souvenir de cette tradition.


    April 24, 2012 at 6:30 am

  13. That's a holiday with great customs.

    Quite a dragon there!


    April 24, 2012 at 4:26 am

  14. What an excellent tradition. Thank you for educating me.


    April 24, 2012 at 2:28 am