April 23rd, 2012
Last month in March, St Patrick was celebrated, nowhere better than my own Emerald Isle, unless you got to take part in one of the huge parades that New York puts on every year…But what about St George, the patron saint of England? Are the best parties UK based? No…..actually, today the 23rd April the dragon slayer himself will be celebrated in style right here in Spain…La Día de Sant Jordi…let´s cut to Catalonia!
Where to go?
As history would have it…. in the old Crown of Aragon, Saint George – or San Jordi – is the main man for a saint´s day celebration in Aragon, Valencia, Majorca and….Catalonia.
Let´s start at the beginning
UNESCO has declared today the Day of The Book, because on this day in 1616 two important writers died – William Shakespeare and his Spanish counterpart Miguel de Cervantes. So it is just perfectly apt that in Catalonia today, you can expect two things as gifts from your loved one….a rose, and a book. You might find that El Dia de San Jordi is also referred to as El Dia de la Rosa.Sort of like Valentines Day, the sentiment is that the rose is for love and the book is forever…
Where are the best celebrations? Well, they´re all good parties, here are some of the best ones:
In Aragon, today is also Dia de Aragon, commemorating the Battle of Alcoraz when Huesca was conquered, aided and abetted by one Saint George, who launched himself into battle at a critical moment in proceedings and helped out the Christian Army.
Zaragoza in Aragon lays a carpet of yellow and red roses- a sight – and scent – to behold…
Along the East coast of Spain in Valencia, costumes are donned for re-enactments of the Moors and Christians battles – again in recognition and thanksgiving for the help given by the Saint in battle. So pack your suntan lotion, sharpest sword and strongest shield…
You´ll need strength before battle, cook up some carbs – Paella? – in one of these places to stay in Valencia…
That wonderful city. As if there were not already an overload of places to go and things to see, you´ll be Gaudi-ed out!
Street performances, musicians and open air readings add to the bohemian atmosphere, take in a little Cervantes with them!
La Rambla has to be the most famous street in all of Spain…today the booksellers are out in force. The pavements will be crowded with ladies clutching roses and crowds browsing books laid out on temporary stalls - definitely the day of the book up here!
Why not join in with the literati and see whether you can pick up a good title? You´ll need somewhere to put your feet up and read it too, check out the comfortable armchairs in some holiday homes to rent in Barcelona…a good plot!
If you get a chance, try and visit the Palau de la Generalitat, as a government building it is closed to the public except for this one day of the year when you can go inside and admire the interior which is covered from top to bottom in red roses to celebrate Saint George.
In Extramadura in west central Spain, visit Cáceres. Today you´ll see a dragon being burned in a blazing bonfire in the Plaza Mayor – after Saint George has slain the beast of course! A noisy party with fireworks and dancing in this beautiful and ancient walled location helps the atmosphere along…the resident nesting storks probably don´t find it so amusing! But then again….they´re Spanish so I guess they´re fine with a few bangs and crashes!
After the party has ended there´s a lot more to discover in Cáceres, browse this list of holiday accommodation for a nice nest to rent…
The day of the Rose, the day of the Book, the day of Love, wherever you happen to be – Happy Saint George´s Day!