Feliç Diada de Sant Jordi! Happy Saint George’s Day! Feliz Día de San Jorge!
You may be wondering, first of all, what the hell is the Diada de Sant Jordi and secondly, why on earth should I love it too. Well, I’ll get to that in a hot second, so hold your horses. First of all, let me explain exactly who Sant Jordi is and pretend that writing this post counts as revising for my looming Catalan exams that I’ve been neglecting up until now.
Sant Jordi? Who on earth is that?
You may know him by many other guises, including Saint George, San Jorge or even Saint George the Dragonkiller if you’re in the Czech Republic. Basically, he’s most famously known as the dragon slaying patron saint of England, and lesser recognised as the Patron Saint of other nations and nationalities, such as Catalonia, Georgia and Lebanon amongst many others. (Read a full list here, if you’re interested!) He’s also widely celebrated and worshipped in places like Brazil and Russia.
Historically speaking, it’s asserted that Sant Jordi was actually a Greek-in-origin Roman soldier born to Christian parents, who allegedly lived in Palestine during (roughly) the 3rd century AD.
What’s the Diada de Sant Jordi?
The Diada de Sant Jordi is celebrated on the April 23rd each year and, in its Catalan iteration, involves the exchange of books and roses. In fact, in Catalonia, book sales go through the roof leading up to the Diada de Sant Jordi. This is, obviously, slightly different to the English way of celebrating Saint George’s Day which usually involves that vaguely racist uncle of yours sharing an EDL post on Facebook. (Although, in a welcome change spurred by the current political climate, The Independent took to reminding us that St. George was an immigrant this morning).
Why I Love the Diada de Sant Jordi
As an English Brit and a dedicated Catalan student, you might be coming to conclusions about why I like the Diada de Sant Jordi. However, I (embarrassingly) only put two and two together about Sant Jordi and Saint George being the same person a few weeks ago when my Catalan teacher pointed it out. I’m an idiot. Plus, it’s the Catalan version that piques my interest, not the English Saint George’s Day, with its ability to draw out the keyboard racists and far-right movements. I’d rather celebrate the day that promotes literature, thank you very much.
That brings me on to the real reason I love the Diada de Sant Jordi (and the reason why you should too!) Books. Free books. While it was typical for men to gift roses to women and them to gift books in return, nowadays women too receive books and book exchanges are actually super common practice on the day that’s also known as either the Dia del Llibre or Dia de La Rosa. Who doesn’t love free books?!
As a bonus point, another reason why I love the Diada de Sant Jordi is that I get an excuse to gift my boyfriend (who’s called Jorge) a book and try and coerce him into reading once a year. And he draws me roses in return.
Anyway, go forth fellow culture fiends, and celebrate the alleged day of Shakespeare’s birth by getting your mitts on some free books. Just don’t accidentally share an EDL post.