Every year on 23rd April, the UNESCO World Book Day, Catalans celebrate their patron saint, Sant Jordi (Saint George). It is one of the Catalans’ most cherished days in the calendar, when people give books and red roses to friends and loved ones in celebration of love and literature. Traditionally men used to give a rose to women and women gave men books in return, but the tradition has evolved and nowadays men and women both give and receive books and roses to each other as well as to friends and even co-workers.
The streets of Barcelona and all around the country will be flooded with books and flower stands, where people line up to buy books and roses or just stroll around enjoying the atmosphere. Like every year, hundreds of authors from Catalonia but also from all around the world sign books to their readers. In addition, emblematic buildings such as Gaudi’s Casa Batlló on the famous Passeig de Gracia are decorated with red roses and encourage visitors to learn about the legend of Sant Jordi.
The City Council of Barcelona has decided to incorporate new spaces in the city to facilitate the walk between stops and to avoid areas becoming too oversaturated. In particular, Consell de Cent street will be incorporated as a connector in the section between Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla de Catalunya and Balmes.
1.5M books, 7M roses
Sant Jordi is a very important day for Catalan booksellers, when they make around 5 to 7 percent of their annual sales. This year’s sales are expected to be around 1.5 million books and a turnover of around 22.000€. On the other hand, between 6.5 and 7 million roses will be bought on Sant Jordi, according to the Flower and Ornamental Plant Market of Catalonia wholesaler. This amount shows an increase of 25% compared to 2017, when the holiday fell on a Sunday. This year, instead, it falls on a Monday, and florists believe that as well as seeing a lot of street traffic, they might see businesses buying roses for their employees.
Sant Jordi is also celebrated in many countries of the world with activities related to books and roses, which can be found on the website www.booksandroses.cat.
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