Sant Jordi's legend and festivity
Today, April 23, the Catalans take the streets to celebrate the feastivity of St. George, patron saint of Catalonia, the Day of Books and Roses Fair. Catalan flags are waving in many balconies. Throughout Catalonia roses and books are sold, reaching its peak in Las Ramblas, where new street shops are added to the existing ones for the occasion. In recent decades the sale of books with signatures of the authors and a discount to the sale price is also promoted. Since April 23 it is officially the Book Day Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on April 23 1616. At the end of the day, about four million roses and 800,000 books are bought. Most women wear a rose in hand, and half of the total book sales of a year in Catalonia take place in Sant Jordi. The tradition of the man giving a rose to the woman goes back probably to the XV century. Some versions say that it is related with Roses Fair taking place in Barcelona during those summers. What is certain is that the women who attended the April 23rd Mass celebrated in the chapel of Sant Jordi at Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya were given a rose. The red rose (symbolizing passion) must be accompanied by “senyera” (Catalan flag) and a wheat spike (symbol of fertility). Precisely on April 23rd it is the only open house day at Palau de la Generalitat, the main government building in Barcelona. The interior is decorated with roses to honor Sant Jordi. There is a legend related to Sant Jordi that everyone in Catalonia knows: "It is said that a terrible dragon caused terror in the surroundings of the town of Montblanc, and with its poisoned air puffs, he produced the death of all who breathed them. Concerned about the situation, the villagers thought of feeding the dragon every day with a human person to try to calm him, and decided to submit it to draw. For a while they did and the beast calmed down. But one day the fate made the king's daughter be chosen to be devoured. The young princess was loved by all and although they offered to be changed for her, the king did not permit this and that's how the princess went to meet the dragon. When she was heading to the monster, a young gentleman crossed her path, Sant Jordi, who had heard of her misfortune and was going to help her. The dragon and the knight fought until Sant Jordi wounded and killed the dragon with a spear. From the blood that flowed from the wound a rosebush with the redder roses the princess had ever seen grew, and the knight cut off one of them and handed it to the princess” We recommend you to walk around the city today and enjoy all the activities it offers such as the Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, which is held during the day at Plaça Sant Jaume. Throughout the city, you will find many book shops and Cafés holding readings from various authors. Street performers and musicians in public squares add cheer to the atmosphere of the day. From Hostal Mare Nostrum we wish you enjoy this day so special and unique!!