Festival of romance & culture – celebrating Sant Jordi in Barcelona

Sant Jordi Festival 2017 Barcelona Spain

Like a local in Barcelona

During my nomadic stay in Barcelona, I have tried as much as I can to blend in with the locals. In other words, to do what they do and embrace the Catalan culture. As you might notice when you visit, Spain is a land of contrasts in various ways and the Catalan region is an autonomous community where Barcelona is situated. Things are done a bit differently here than other parts of the Iberian peninsula. One thing that is similar to the rest of Spain is how the Catalans enjoy a great celebration. Often, for seemingly no reason, drummers would be marching down the streets and I’d hear them from my balcony. There would be a street party, a mini celebration of kinds and people would join in, old and young.

The most romantic festival – Sant Jordi

Sant Jordi Festival stall with roses in Barcelona, Spain

I was told by my local amiga Eva that I should not miss Sant Jordi. She raved at what a romantic and beautiful celebration it is. As I’m recently doing couple nomadic slow-travel, I had to see!

On the 23rd of April each year, Catalans celebrate the Sant Jordi Feast. This festival is in honour of their patron saint, Jordi (Georges in English). For the Catalans, this festival is equivalent of ‘St. Valentine’s day’, but there’s a twist. This date also coincides with two important dates:

  1. In 1926, the 23rd of April was declared Book Day to commemorate the anniversary of the death of most famous Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes.
  2. In 1995, the 23rd of April was declared World Book & Copyright Day by the UNESCO.
Sant Jordi Festival stall with roses and books in Barcelona, Spain
stall with books and roses

This is how over the years, the Spanish recognized that literature is also to be celebrated and therefore, the Sant Jordi festival is a day of love and culture. Boys would give girls a rose as a symbol of love and the girls would gift a book to the boys. It’s not only for couples but one where everyone would participate.

Every street in Barcelona (the busy Las Ramblas seeing more action) would have a stall selling roses and/or books. It’s a huge festival! Sometimes, you could even get your hands on signed copies of important novels.

Sant Jordi Festival - a rose for the women
on the balcony of our dwelling, near the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

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