La Diada de Sant Jordi: Barcelona's Lovers' Day
Barcelona's best day? Easy. April 23---St. George's Day, La Diada de Sant Jordi, Barcelona's Valentine's day---a day when kissometer readings go off the charts, a day so sweet and playful, so goofy and romantic, that 6 million Catalans go giddy from dawn to dusk.
Patron saint of Catalonia, international knight-errant
St. George allegedly
More than 4 million roses and half a million books are sold in Catalonia
on Sant Jordi's Day, men giving their inamoratas roses and the ladies
giving books in return. Bookstalls run the length of the Rambla, and although
it's an official workday, nearly all of Barcelona manages to play hooky
and wander. In the city, St. George is everywhere, beginning on the facade
of the Catalonian seat of government, the Generalitat. Art Nouveau master
A Roman soldier martyrized for his Christian beliefs in the 4th century,
St. George is one of the most venerated of all saints, patron of England,
Greece, and Romania, among other places. Associated with springtime and
fertility, Sant Jordi roses include a spike of wheat and a little red
and yellow senyera, the Catalonian flag. And the books? There's the Shakespeare
and Cervantes anniversary, and Barcelona is the publishing capital of
In Barcelona and all of Catalonia, Sant Jordi's Day erupts joyfully.
The spring air is sweet and filled with promise. Lovers are everywhere.
There is a 24-hour reading of Don Quixote. Authors come to bookstalls
to sign books. In Sarrià, a floral artisan displays 45 kinds of
roses representing 45 different kinds of love, from impossible to unrequited
to filial and maternal. The sardana is reverently performed in Plaça
Sant Jaume, while the
By midnight, the Rambla, once a watercourse, is again awash with flower
water and covered with rose clippings and tiny red-and-yellow--striped
ribbons with diminutive letters spelling "Sant Jordi"---"Diada
de la Rosa" (Day of the Rose)---"t'estimo" (I love you).
photos by christine scharf