On the 23rd of April something special takes place in Catalunya, we celebrate our patron saint, Sant Jordi! We “live” Sant Jordi, at home, at work, in the streets. There’s a romantic and festive atmosphere everywhere. The town buildings are adorned with the Catalan flag, the town square or the ‘rambla’ comes alive, buzzing with colourful stalls selling red roses and books. It’s a day to be cherished and enjoyed by all ages.
Sant Jordi was a brave warrior; he protected the walled medieval town of Montblanc from the dragon. The dragon terrorized Montblanc, taking its animals until such a point that their livelihood was at stake, something had to be done. It was decided that to keep the dragon at bay each day a person from the village would be given to the dragon. This person was chosen at random and included even the royal family. One day that chosen person was the king’s daughter, the princess. As she prepared to sacrifice herself to the dragon along came a horse mounted warrior, he speared and killed the dragon. That warrior was Sant Jordi, he saved the princess. On the spot where the dragon’s blood fell appeared a ring of red roses. From that day on the tradition has been honoured that men gift a single red rose to women to mark the bravery of Sant Jordi.
Roses are not the only thing that are gifted for Sant Jordi, traditionally women give men a book. The 23rd April coincides with the death of Shakespeare, the famous Spanish author Cervantes and the Catalan author Josep Pla. Nowadays books and roses are given by and to either me or women.
If you happen to be in Catalunya, soak up the atmosphere in any town and gift your loved one a rose or a book. Montblanc also hosts its annual medieval week within the walls of the town, a spectacle to enjoy!
We shall be celebrating Sant Jordi at La Cuina as usual. Drop in for a glass of wine and raise a toast to the brave warrior!