Barcelona Hotels Articles

June 28, 2010

Saint George’s celebrations in Barcelona.

In Catalunya and in Barcelona – the Catalan Capital – the people are very proud of their history and heritage and celebrate any excuse to fly their flag and let everyone else know about it. As many people know, Catalunya is vying for independence from Spain, and although this may be a long way away, then you can experience the sights and sounds of Catalunya no better way than each April, when their Patron saint, San Jordi (Saint George) celebrates his feast day.

Such is the affiliation and empathy for Saint George slaying the dragon (the weaker being overpowering the bigger beast – immediate parallels can be drawn with Spain and Catalunya) that various sights in the city have their twist. One of the most famous sights in Barcelona, Casa Batllo on Paseo de Gracia has it’s own dedication to San Jordi, some say. This is a modernista wonder of architecture by Barcelona’s favourite architect, Anotoni Gaudi, and is also a UNESCO Heritage site. The façade and window frames have an uncanny bone-like structure and the rooftop has a curved tiled shape – for me resembling to perfection the scales of a dragon’s back.

San Jordi in Barcelona is a public holiday and is a celebration where the streets are filled with locals and the fortunate tourists who have co-incided with the same dates. Free concerts, local and national TV cameras are planted along Las Ramblas and beyond, and everyone has the famous red and yellow striped Catalan flag or the red cross of saint George hung over their balcony, car or anywhere else it fits! Local bakeries have a great part to play in the San Jordi celebrations, with special breads in the form of the flag fill the windows, along with the celebratory “cocas” or sweet breads that always accompany a glass of cava for a toast later in the evening.

However, perhaps the biggest and most beautiful part of the celebration of San Jordi is the traditional exchange of gifts between couples or family members. Traditionally representing the blood of the slain dragon, men and boys will present their female counterparts with a red rose. Millions of roses are sold throughout Catalunya on this day – many, many more than Saint Valentine’s Day in February for example. There has inevitably been a spin on this during recent years and the flower stalls on Las Ramblas can be seen with blue, white, and even multi coloured roses for this festival.

So what do the girls give in return, I hear you cry? Well, often a mystery to the tourists (and even one or two of the locals if they’re honest), but the girls give the boys a book. Yes, you read right – a book, usually by a Catalan Artist. Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Author of the spectacularly told Barcelona-based “Shadow of the wind” has reaped the rewards of Saint George’s day in recent years! Mobile book stalls are set up along Diagonal Avenue, all the way down Paseo de Gracia, to Plaça Catalunya, and although they are one days before the actual feast day, they too make a roaring trade on Sant Jordi’s day. This tradition of giving a book is in homage to Spain’s most famous writer Miguel Cervantes – author of Don Quijote de la Mancha and Spain’s Shakespeare – who also died on this day. Strolling the streets of Barcelona on San Jordi is a beautiful experience one would not want to miss!

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