The Legend of Sant Jordi

23/04/2024 The Legend of Sant Jordi

One of the most beloved and celebrated festivities in Catalonia is the Day of Sant Jordi, a celebration full of folklore and joy that reflects the cultural identity of an entire people.

Today, April 23rd, the streets are full of people; couples in love, groups of friends, parents and children, any kind of love is valid to enjoy reading and exchanging roses on this special holiday.

Thousands of stories have sprung up around this legend, but they all have the hero-princess-dragon triad in mind.

According to the Barcelona City Council, this myth was born in the 13th century and is set in Montblanc, a nearby medieval town.

The village lived in fear of an evil dragon with an insatiable appetite. According to the fable, when the beast had eaten all the food and livestock in the village, to keep it from plundering the streets, they decided to sacrifice one inhabitant every day by drawing lots.

Some say that the dragon ate half the population before it was the princess's turn, others say that she was the first to be drawn. Either way, as in any good medieval tale, just as the dragon is about to devour the king's daughter, a knight in shining armor appears, in our case our patron Sant Jordi, kills the beast with his lance and saves the lady.

Blood flows from the mortal wound which turns into a rose bush, and our hero gives the princess a rose as a symbol of his love; in return, she writes him a poem.
Although the story does not end with an ending worthy of the epic, as our handsome protagonist decides not to marry Her Highness in order to continue saving villages, it leaves us with two beautiful symbols, the rose and the book, that endure through time.

However, there are two anecdotes that you may not know about this deeply rooted tradition.

The first is that Gaudí, as a good Catalan, was inspired by this feat to build the House of Bones or Casa Batlló, as it is commonly known. The famous architect decorated the roof with tiles representing the dragon's back and placed a lance simulating the one that caused the wound from which our rosebush emerges.

The second is that in addition to the existence of thousands of variations of this story, there are many other places that celebrate this brave hero. He is the patron saint of Aragon, the International Day of Books, and in Europe, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia also venerate Saint George.

No doubt today we will celebrate Sant Jordi as it deserves, and we wish you a happy day and a better reading.