St George's Day
So here it is: another opportunity for red-blooded English people, and a handful of tabloids, to complain that St George’s Day isn’t a national holiday. That said, they might have a point, a mere 600+ years ago, it was a holiday on par with Christmas in the UK.
Known to have defeated a dragon which almost certainly didn’t exist, St George was most famously killed for refusing to recant his Christian faith, effectively opening the door to sainthood. In England, the occasion is still quite the lacklustre affair indeed, St Patrick’s Day probably gets more people in the pubs.
But for those looking to *really* celebrate St George, 23rd April, he isn’t just the preserve of England; he’s particularly popular in Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria and even Russia, for all manner of reasons and they all host events in his honour. In Georgia, the St George Cross features prominently in the country’s flag though contrary to popular belief, the nation wasn’t named after the man himself.
And in Spain…FESTIVAL OF SANT JORDI IN BARCELONA…
WHAT IS THE FESTIVAL OF SANT JORDI AND WHEN IS IT?It is one of the most original celebrations in Catalonia.
It is a very popular festival that combines culture and romanticism, celebrating both World Book Day and Valentine’s Day. On this day, it is custom for couples to exchange gifts: the men receive a book and the women receive a rose. However, this has developed over time, so both men and women can receive books and roses. Book and flower stalls are set up along the streets of Barcelona. The streets fill with people walking around stalls, looking for a gift for their beloved, and for their family and friends too. You will find the latest publications, see well-known artists signing copies of their books, and of course, smell the scent of the roses.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE FESTIVAL?
This curious festival comes from a mixture of traditions from different periods. It coincides, on one hand, with the fact that Sant Jordi has been the patron saint of Catalonia since the 15th century and on the other hand, it comes from the famous legend of Saint George and the dragon (the knight defeats the dragon, who was terrorising the village and the princess, and after penetrating the dragon with his sword, Saint George gave the princess one of the beautiful red roses that spilled out of the beast’s body) and the old medieval tradition of visiting the Chapel of Sant Jordi in the Palacio de la Generalitat, where a rose fair or ‘lovers fair’ used to take place. This is why Sant Jordi is also the patron saint of lovers in Catalonia.