Reading on Catalan Valentine’s Day

Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! If I could be anywhere in the world today, I’d definitely pick Barcelona. Today the city’s shutting down to make time for everyone to buy books and roses for the people they love.

The rose half of the tradition goes back hundreds of years and commemorates St. Jordi, a Catholic saint who slew a dragon, saved a princess and was killed by the Romans. If that’s all a little too Disney for you, wait until you hear what happened next. In 1616, two guys who knew how to write stories that hadn’t already been played out — Cervantes and Shakespeare–died on the same day: April 23rd. Fast-forward three hundred years to 1926: the first year Book Day took place in Catalunya. After holding the festival in October for three years, someone suggested that they move it to April 23rd to celebrate the deaths of two great authors. Since the 23rd also happens to be St. Jordi’s day, the two holidays merged to create something much bigger than the two ever were on their own.

Today over 800,000 books and 4 million roses will be sold and exchanged in Catalunya. Remember how excited you got for book fair in elementary school? It’s like that, only bigger and with love and dragons.

We can’t all be lucky enough to be in Catalunya today, but don’t let where you are stop you from celebrating! Give — or better yet, read — a book to someone you love. That person can be your best friend, your dad or even yourself. I’ve been eyeing Making It ever since Laneia told me about it a month ago and I’m feeling like today just might be the day I pop over to the library to check it out. But enough about me, what about you? What’s on your reading list?


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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


    • Hmm…the links all seem to work for me. As Laura said, let us know which one you’re having problems with and we’ll try to figure out if something’s up!

      • it was the amazon link to “making it” but you magical people fixed it without even knowing <3

  1. I was just innnn Catalunya. When I heard about it I was like, it must be pretty sweet to be a lesbian over there if they do what I would do, and give a rose AND a book.
    (The women get roses, and guys get books)

  2. Laura, I have Making It and it is so cool! We totally make our own fruit fly traps n’ things.

  3. What an excellent holiday that includes books. I’ve been reading Shakespeare these past few months so today will be another day reading his plays. Right now I’m in The Winter’s Tale.

  4. I want to read Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel Are You My Mother?
    Please someone give it to me as a gift today! That would be *amazing*!

  5. Hmm, we just had a Fiesta del Libro y la Rosa here in Mexico City. Do you think it’s related? I was wondering what the rose part was about.

  6. I’m Catalan and living in Barcelona and this article has been a nice surprise. Sant Jordi is probably the tradition I’m most fond of: today literature and roses are all around the city. Besides, famous writers are everywhere signing their works. I just got a copy of “The Fight Club” dedicated by Chuck Palahniuk!

    Traditionally, women would get the rose and not the book, but obviously we have evolved beyond that and nowadays everyone gets some nice literature. Therefore, today I’m going home with two roses -one from my father and one from my girlfriend- and three books, and have given in return a rose and another three books.

  7. Wow this is really neat! I’m totally going to do this next year, even though I doubt I’ll be in Barcelona, unless things take a *really* unexpected turn.

  8. I love Sant Jordi, it’s possibly one of my favorites days of the year to live in Barcelona. (although that does change come Sant Joan and pride time of year). I scored a handmade play dough rose from my girlfriend and an awesome book of origami ideas that I’m just about to start on! I think the amazingness of this day should be spread to to world, so thanks for the article!

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