06.03.2013 22 °C
Spring is fast approaching. The floral scent of warmth is beginning to fill the air and the sky ever-changing into a deeper shade of blue. And just around the corner is El Dia de Sant Jordi - Catalonia’s national day, a true spring-time celebration and undoubtedly one of the best occasions on which to visit its vibrant capital city, Barcelona.
The 23rd of April is a special day in numerous countries around the world with Jordi, or George, being remembered and celebrated in many different ways. But the events held in Barcelona really are something to be seen. Las Ramblas, normally a chaotic, tourist fun-fair, is transformed into a romantic, artistic, living gallery filled with vivid colours, endless curiosities and classic charm. And there is an infectious feeling all round of national pride and joy. Relating back to the legend of Jordi, the princess and the dragon, it has become custom for men to present their beloved women with a rose on this day, and Las Ramblas is subsequently abounding with fantastic, captivating and at times awe-inspiring rose stalls. Infinite and exquisite, scarlet petals beckon our attention and hypnotize us as if they had fallen straight out of a fairy-tale. And it’s not only the traditional roses that take centre stage, but yellow ones, blue ones, purple and even rainbow ones - a true spectacle, and fully worthy of their gathering crowds.
Coinciding with the story of Jordi, the 23rd of April also marks the anniversary of the deaths of both Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare. Of course, never ones to miss a reason to celebrate, the Catalans have added this into the mix as well, and the date has therefore become known as ‘the day of the book and the rose’. And the literary world has of course got in on the action, making it now typical for women to mark the occasion by giving a book to the man of their life. And so apart from the beautiful and bountiful displays of roses on Las Ramblas, book stalls also stretch far into the distance providing a uniquely curious yet enchanting atmosphere. Book signings are common practice and throughout the day across the centre of Barcelona famous Catalan writers and TV personalities can be seen enjoying the festivities and posing for photos with their fans.
El Dia de Sant Jordi truly is an unforgettable day to be in Barcelona. A magical sense of celebration is felt all round and the pride of local culture expressed to the fullest. It is a perfect opportunity to really begin to understand Catalan identity, and what better way to do so than by wandering the adorned streets of historic Barcelona. All that’s left to do is to hope that someone bestows us with a book, or a rose.