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Sant Jordi/San Jorge/Sant Chorche/Saint George’s day (in English)

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Cada año por esta fecha este blog publica una reflexión sobre niños, libros y rosas . A catalans, españoles, aragoneses y otros no hace falta explicar mucho el significado del día. Pero esta fecha que recuerda igual a Cervantes que a Shakespeare, a Garcilaso de la Vega o a William Woodsworth, no tiene el mismo significado en la cultura anglosajona. Lo que sigue es una traducción libre al inglés del contenido de la entrada en la Vikipèdia catalana, que lo explica con bastante precisión. (Las versiones en otras Wikis no son iguales).


The Day of Sant Jordi in Catalonia is a festival that is celebrated on April 23 with the Day of the Book and the Fair of the Roses, symbols of culture and love, and it is also a day that claims the Catalan culture. It is the day of the lovers, and for that reason from the 15th century, it is customary to give a red rose “like blood” to the beloved. In the 1930s the custom of giving a book to the boy is added, on the occasion of the day of the book.

The Sant Jordi festival is celebrated on April 23, the day when knight Jordi died in 303. The saint, who remained under the orders of the emperor Diocletian, refused to follow the order of to persecute the Christians, for which he was martyred and beheaded. Soon he began to be venerated as a martyr and immediately appeared fantastic stories linked to his figure.

The cult of Saint George was fully extended to all the Catalan Countries, during the Middle Ages, and by the eighth century there was devotion. And since 1456, it is the official patron saint of Catalonia. Although the festival was celebrated with more intensity or less since the sixteenth century, it is at the end of the nineteenth century, with the political and cultural movement of the Renaixença, when Sant Jordi was celebrated as the most celebrated patriotic, civic and cultural day in Catalonia.

Legend of Saint George

The Catalan version of the legend of Sant Jordi says that after a fierce battle of the knight and the dragon, the beast fell through the sharp iron and that from the blood drizzles that came to the ground there was a rose that bloomed profusely every April. This is the explanation that the oral tradition gives to the custom of giving roses for the Saint George’s Day, on April 23.

Imaginary legends and stories aside, we know that the tradition of giving away with love roses comes from afar. The bond of Saint George with the world of cavalry and courtly love may have been the germ of tradition. We also know that the so-called Love Fair was celebrated in Barcelona in the fifteenth century and that sellers of this flower were installed around the Palau de la Generalitat, the see of the Catalan government. At the same time, it was customary to give a rose the women who attended the celebrated Eucharist in the chapel of Sant Jordi in the palace. And, finally, there is someone who says that the custom of giving roses has Roman roots, specifically festivities in honor of the goddess Flora, who later became Christianized.

Roses stalls and open market

In the symbolic universe, the red rose, the color of passion, is the flower of female love, while the carnation is reserved for male love. The garment of the rose, for Sant Jordi, is also quite curious and elements of different origins are mixed. On the one hand, the feminine love represented by the pink rose petals, velvety and fragile, and sometimes accompanied by a tang that represents fertility, arouses a very ancient interpretation of cereal seeds. But there are also those who make a more prosaic reading and relates it to the arrival of good weather. On the other hand, the flower of Sant Jordi is also usually decorated with elements that evoke Catalan, such as ties or ribbons with the flag, which reminiscent of the claiming content of the day.

This year of 2018, the political situation in Catalonia, with 9 Catalan independentist politicians thrown in jail for their beliefs, yellow ribbons claiming their release and yellow roses will be a pervasive symbol of protest.

Today, florists, corners, avenues, streets, squares … become points of sale and distribution of thousands and thousands of roses that are given to loved ones and loved ones, as it marks the tradition, but also to friends, friends, parents, colleagues, clients, etc., because this flower has outgrown the original meaning of love and has also become a gift of courtesy and friendship. As you can see, the rose has become the protagonist of the festival, to the point that domestic production does not meet the demand, so import should be resorted to from other far-reaching places in the world.


In the 15th century, a rosemary fair was held in Barcelona on the occasion of Sant Jordi. It gathered mainly couples, love friends, engaged and newlyweds, and this suggests that the custom of giving away a rose has its origin in this celebration, which took place around the Government palace, the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya. It was proposed to turn this date into a holiday for the first time in 1436 when the proposal was made to the Catalan Parliament. The proposal became effective in 1456.  Since the 15th century, in Catalonia Sant Jordi’s day is the day of lovers, and it is customary for couples to give away a red rose “like blood” and a book. To the popularity of the saint, the monarchs Pere el Catòlic, Jaume I or Pere el Cerimoniós, contributed with their decrees and recommendations. Apart from being traditional, the popularization of the gift of giving roses was actively restored in 1914, thanks to the impulse of the Catalan Commonwealth (Mancomunitat, a semi-autonomous government body of Catalonia that lasted a few years).


The origin of the day associated with the book is located in the twenties of the last century, when Valencian writer Vicent Clavel i Andrés, director of the publishing house Cervantes, proposed to the Official Chamber of the Book of Barcelona and the Guild of ” Publishers and Booksellers” make a celebration to promote books in Catalonia. The date chosen was October 7, 1927.

In 1929, during the International Exhibition of Barcelona, the booksellers went to the streets and the initiative was so successful that it was decided to change the date. The new Book Day would be on April 23, a spring date and, in addition, coinciding with the burial of Miguel de Cervantes and the death of William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar, he died on May 3 according to the Gregorian calendar), in 1616. In addition, Josep Pla, a major Catalan writer, also died on the same date in 1981. The party from the beginning contributed decisively to give a strong impetus to the production and commercialization of books in Catalan and did not stop even during the Spanish Civil War.

From the beginning, the celebration contributed to give a strong impetus to Catalan publishing production and still today retains this essence. And the importance of the Catalan day has been so great that in 1995 the general conference of UNESCO declared April 23 World Book and Copyright Day.

International Book Day

On November 15, 1995, the General Conference of UNESCO decreed on April 23 as International Book and Copyright Day. That day, readers take the opportunity to exchange reading impressions on the street with their favorite writers and these to sign the last editorial novelty. In recent years, this ritual of the book’s diary has gained a strong media component, both for the authors and the interest of the party, which confirms the incidence and success beyond the Catalan borders.

National holiday of Catalonia

The day of Sant Jordi has been declared National Celebration of Catalonia by the Catalan government, but this day is not a holiday: it is regular working day and a school day for the students. For Sant Jordi, official receptions are made at the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya and in the educational world, where “Flower Games” are held, it is a big holiday and participation in which the printed and recited word plays a leading role. The town of Montblanc, according to the Catalan Costumari of the folklorist Joan Amades, was the place of Catalonia where Saint George killed the dragon and saved the princess. That is why, since 1987, the Montblancs revive the Medieval Week of the Legend of Saint George. The peak of the festival is the representation of the legend of the noble knight, hero and rescuer of princesses, in the scenes gathered by popular tradition.

The day is a turning point in the Catalan culture and many balconies are decorated with banners and pennants with the flag of Catalonia. There are stalls with political demands, to help humanitarian organizations, to raise funds for schools or simply to get some extra money. The media broadcast live from the most emblematic points. But above all, it is worth mentioning the festive atmosphere generated by the day. Activities are carried out in libraries and concerts in the streets that are added to the busy Catalan cultural agenda.

Books and roses are sold all over Catalonia, but it’s in the Rambla de Barcelona where the event comes to its fullest. The usual stops on the Rambla are added to the temporary ones. It is traditional to promote the sale of books with the author’s signature and at a discount at the sale price. The near bookshops are full of fun and open even if it is Sunday. There are also readings of poems or snippets of books and theaters and showrooms make special promotions. As far as roses are transformed into a business of which everyone takes advantage, in 2010 it is estimated that six million roses were sold in Catalonia, 40% of roses throughout the year.

My apologies for a bit tortured English, as the translation has been made with the help of a machine translator and I did not take enough time for a proper review.

If you happen to be near Catalonia, make sure you do not miss this celebration.

(Como decíamos hace un par de años: Iniciar a los niños a la lectura es comenzar la gran batalla contra el dragón de la ignorancia, la incultura, el embrutecimiento y la marginación. Hay que recordar que no nos bastará con una lanzada por certera que sea, para destruir al dragón. Es una lucha que requiere esfuerzos continuados, diarios y tenaces. (To induce reading to children is the start of the great battle against the dragons of ignorance, lack of culture, stultification, and exclusion. It will not be enough with just one thrust of the spear to slain the dragon. It requires daily, continuous and tenacious efforts by all concerned with the well-being of the children)

X. Allué (Editor)


Written by pedsocial

23 abril 2018 a 9:28


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