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Sant Jordi – A beautiful Catalan tradition

Today the main ingredients of this post will be a dragon, a princess, saint George, a rose and lots of books.

It’s one of the most beautiful traditions we have in Catalonia: Sant Jordi. According to popular tradition, Sant Jordi was a Roman soldier and was born in the 3rd century in Capadocia in Turkey. This Saint, who was under the orders of the emperor Diocletian, refused to carry out the emperor’s edict to persecute all Christians and for this reason he was martyred and decapitated by his companions. In the eastern part of the Roman Empire, he soon became venerated as a martyr and shortly after this, fantastic stories related to him began to appear.

The exploits of Sant Jordi and the Dragon became popular throughout Europe around the 9th century under the name of “Golden legend” and were compiled by the archbishop of Genoa, Iacopo da Varazze, in 1264, in the book ‘Legenda sanctorum ‘. In this version, however, the exploits took place in Libya.

The most popular legend in Catalonia about Sant Jordi tells that at Montblanc, in Conca de Barberà, there was a terrible dragon which viciously attacked men and beasts. To pacify it, lots were drawn and a person was chosen to be given as a sacrifice to the monster. One day, the misfortune fell on the king’s daughter, who would have died in the beast’s claws if it had not been for the arrival of a handsome knight who challenged the dragon and killed it. A red rose bush was born from the dragon’s bloody stained earth.

This same legend, although with slight variations, is told as a popular legend in England, Portugal and Greece. (source: Generalitat de Catalunya).

Also, this same day there was a tradition to celebrate lovers’ day and the Generalitat Palace was open to the public and would offer all women in town a red rose. This tradition goes back to the VIII century and nowadays you (girls) can still go there and get your rose.

On 1926, “The day of the book” was instated and here in Catalonia the 23rd of April was the chosen day.

So, today we, women, give a book to our sweetheart and he gives us a rose ♥♥♥. Even though is not a bank holiday, everybody is on the streets buying books and Roses in Paseo de Gracia or Ramblas (Barcelona city). All book stores have their stands on the streets and the air smells of roses and spring all over the city…. Aaaawwwhhh! So beautiful!!!

If you want to spread the tradition, follow the link and send a rose to your lover!

Girls here you have a rose for you. Red from passion. The passion you put in all your posts!!! Keep it up!
And boys, here you have some books’ recommendations:

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Catalan writer famous world around. He is now living in the States. His book “La Sombra del Viento” (The shadow of the Wind, in english) was the biggest success ever! If you still haven’t read the book, go and buy it. I highly recommend it to you.
Some days ago he launched his new book: “El juego del Angel“. This book will be my choice for this year’s Sant Jordi. Amazon link.

Both books’ stories take place in Barcelona and if you don’t know the city and want to learn a bit about it, then…. read this guy! The story will seduce you from the first page to the last :D.

I could go on an on talking about books but then this would be too long and I have to get going to the kitchen for my post on Friday and lunch today: Peus de porc amb cargols – Pork feet with snails… a delicious catalan dish.

Have a Happy Sant Jordi♥♥♥


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04/23/2008 · 11:27 h by Peter G

This sounds like a wonderful Spanish tradition Nuria. Your posts are very informative and always written with such enthusiasm and passion. Bravo chica!

04/23/2008 · 14:03 h by We Are Never Full

Hi, Nuria! This post was adorable. I love learning about these traditions. This is a really sweet one… I like it better than Valentines Day (which I’m not a big fan of from all of those years I was single!). Thanks for the flower!

04/23/2008 · 14:40 h by Ben

Nuria, this post is so full of love and passion, like everything you write. I imagine myself walking on the streets of Barcelona looking at books (I love books) and buying roses for all the beautiful Spanish girls. Would you adopt me so I can live in Spain? :-p


04/23/2008 · 14:53 h by katiez

Happy Sant Jordi, Guapa!
You know I read the first book – and loved it. His descriptions of Barcelona, both the location and the ambiance, were spot on!
Thanks for the notice about the goes on my wish list.
(And thank you for my rose ;’))

04/23/2008 · 16:22 h by Ivy

Nuria Happy St. Jordi’s Day. I am so happy I learned your traditions about this day. It’s always nice to give a book as a gift. St. Jordi, or St. George or Ai Giorgis as we call the Saint in Greek is usually celebrated on the 23rd of April. However, whenever this date is before the Easter it is celebrated on Monday after Easter. This is due to the fact that the liturgy of St. George has hymns relating to the resurrection of Christ.

04/23/2008 · 17:14 h by Jen of A2eatwrite

What a wonderful post, Nuria! Fascinating. I’ll have to look at that book, for certain.

04/23/2008 · 17:51 h by Núria

Thank you Peter. This is such a lovely day! Swallows in the sky, shinny sun, green leaves and books and roses… Just beautiful!

Amy, I like this day a lot but I can also celebrate Valentines day!!!! 2 better than one :D

No problem, Ben! You are welcome any time :D

I thought some martians came and take you away Katie… I was missing your comments in my blog!!!
As soon as I finish reading the last book of Zafón, I’ll let you know what… it’s supposed to be better!!!!
Glad you liked the rose, sweetie!

Wow Ivy, thanks for the info!!! It’s been a beautiful day today♥

Jen, please do! You won’t be deceived!!!!

04/23/2008 · 18:59 h by Ivy

I’m back. I received an e-mail today in Spanish and thought it was a spam. Just a few minutes ago I opened it and saw the beautiful red rose. Thank you Nuria.

04/24/2008 · 6:57 h by Núria

So glad you liked it, Ivy!!!

04/24/2008 · 19:23 h by Emiline

Happy Sant Jordi to you!

04/25/2008 · 23:23 h by giz

What a lovely tradition – blogging has really opened up a whole world of learning about cultures, customs and wonderful people.

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