The Origin of World Book Day
As you may already know, the 23rd of April is World Book Day. But it is also Saint George’s day, patron saint of England and Catalonia.
Saint George’s day is the most romantic day in Barcelona. “Sant Jordi” (Catalan for Saint George) is the Catalan equivalent to Saint Valentine’s day.
The fact that the 23rd of April is considered World Book Day is thanks to the importance that books acquire during La diada de Sant Jordi.
So why is this day so romantic? If you’ve ever visited Barcelona on 23rd of April you will surely know the answer. Love is literally in the air, and the air is full of books’ and roses’ scent. Strolling down Las Ramblas (Barcelona’s most famous street) you can experience what Sant Jordi means to Catalans. The city centre is full of book stands and every corner of Barcelona is packed with people selling roses. Contrary to Saint Valentine’s Day, Sant Jordi is not only about couples, but about the people you love, being parents, children, nephews or friends.
Despite not being a public holiday, everyone has time to walk around the city centre and choose a book and a rose for their loved ones. The tradition is for men to buy roses and women books for their loved ones. Sant Jordi in figures is even more surprising: around 6 million roses and 20 million euros worth of books are sold annually.
But why not chocolate? Books started to be gifted as a way to honour two important authors who died on the 23rd of April: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.
On the other hand, the Catalan legend of “Saint George and the dragon” is the reason thar roses have become so important.
“Once upon a time, a terrible dragon terrorised the inhabitants of a kingdom. The dragon kept devouring all the animals until there were none left. To calm the dragon’s hunger (and anger) the villagers decided they would sacrifice a person each day. As there were no volunteers, they were selected by lot. But the day arrived when the princess was chosen. She left the kingdom to encounter the dragon and just when she was about to be devoured Saint George arrived. He fought the dragon with his lance and killed him, surprisingly, out of the blood of the dragon there sprouted roses.”
If you happen to be in Barcelona, strolling down Las Ramblas is definitely a must! For those of you who would love to work in Barcelona (and celebrate Sant Jordi) we have plenty of jobs awaiting!
Happy World Book day to you all and Feliç diada de Sant Jordi !