The all knowing booksellers were the first to popularize this holiday in 1923 as the day of honoring of two great figures in literature – Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. They both died on this day in 1616. Barcelona, being the publishing capital of the Spanish speaking world, accepted the idea of uniting literature and love with readiness.
Some researchers suppose that the holiday is related to the legend telling how Saint George killed a dragon and offered a princess a red rose that grew from the dragon’s blood. That is why on April 23 Barcelona is covered with bouquets of red roses. Traditionally, girls present their boyfriends with books while boys give their girlfriends red roses for a present.
The same day, the battle with a dragon is organized. A pack of “dragons” sits quietly on the square just in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona. They let the passers-by take pictures with them, and they let children pull their tails and teeth. At midnight, the dragons start crawling towards the center of the square. After that, they start hissing, spitting fire and smoke, covering the spectators with flashing sparks. Then Saint George wins them in a battle and as the sign of a victory a bouquet of red roses drops out of their mouth.
Sant Jordi (Josep Llimona) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)