By Naila Missous, Barcelona
Saint George’s Day, known throughout Catalonia as Sant Jordi, is more than a ravine day in Barcelona.
Hailed as the Catalan equivalent to Valentine’s Day, love is in the air all the way down Ramblas and beyond.
Each year, on April 23, the streets are filled with the Catalan flag hanging from balcony windows, guys strolling with roses and ladies grasping notebooks: all adorned in the Catalan colours of yellow and red.
The story of Sant Jordi is reiterated throughout the day: Saint George was a hero who saved a beautiful Princess. The story goes that the saint destroyed a dragon that was terrorising a town just south of Barcelona and was about to kill a beautiful Princess. Once the dragon died, a rosebush grew from its blood, so Sant Jordi picked and delivered a rose to his Princess.
The people of Barcelona still maintain the custom of giving a rose to their loved ones or friends and relatives.
Sant Jordi is not recognised as a public holiday; therefore the commotion of Plaza Catalunya and the city centre becomes only more animated. Drum beats and the hum of music are the soundtrack to this day. There is no mistaking the feeling that this is fiesta time.
The day attracts large crowds and is even more colourful in Barcelona, particularly on La Rambla. The famous boulevard which stretches down to the port is packed with stalls selling books and flowers from the early hours of the morning. The typical scene is played over and over as you progress down the street: men giving ladies a rose and the men a receiving a book.
It is estimated that it is on this day in particular that bookshops and publishers report their highest sales throughout Catalonia.