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Sant Jordi's Day: Spain's answer to Valentine's Day

By Carles Lopez
On February 13, 2014

Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, celebrates love with books - instead of chocolates.
April 23 is the day of Sant Jordi, Saint George in English, and is considered international book day.
On that day, Catalonian couples celebrate their love for each other in a really intimate, and symbolic way. The man will give a single rose and a wheat spike to his partner and the woman will give a book to her partner.
The single rose represents an exclusive love, and the wheat spike represents fecundity. The book, which is chosen carefully to fit her lovers' taste, represents how well she knows her partner.
"We always buying books. We are both avid readers," Estefania Peñalver-Ferrer, a Catalonian living in the United States, said.
"However while choosing a book for my husband during Sant Jordi, I'm extra careful and I buy something that he will truly like," Ferrer said, expressing the importance of the gift. "And I get a rose, it's like the Beauty and the Beast."
Nowadays it is more common that both sides receive a book, instead of just the man in the relationship.
The tradition of the rose came from a folklore story in which a dragon was terrorizing the small Catalonian town of Montblanc. The villagers fed all of their cattle to the dragon, but the villagers had no other choice but to put all of their names into a pot and raffle sacrifices once they ran out of cattle. The day in which the princess' name was drawn from the pot, a knight came to rescue the princess and slaughtered the dragon. From the puddle of the dragon's blood a single rosebush grew, and the knight, whose name was Jordi, gave one rose to the princess.
The book's legacy began when UNESCO declared April 23rd to be the international book day in 1995.
"We celebrate Sant Jordi instead of Valentine's Day because it's less commercial, it has more meaning to us," Ferrer said.
Catalonia's Sant Jordi celebration goes beyond a consumerism, Sant Jordi achieves, with only a book, a rose and a wheat spike to celebrate love, culture and patriotism.
 


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