According to the Catalans, the legend of Sant Jordi did not take place in the Libyan city of Silene, but in MontBlanc. Which is a village in the province of Tarragona.
The Legend of Sant Jordi
In a lake lived a dragon that made life difficult for the inhabitants. To keep the dragon in check, the inhabitants gave it two sheep a day. Until one day, the sheep were no longer enough for the dragon. So something else had to be thought of and it became children. Every day, a child from the village was sacrificed, until it was the turn of the princess, the king’s daughter. She was brought to the dragon in her most beautiful clothes. But there was Sant Jordi to save her from her fate just in time. Sant Jordi stabbed the dragon to death with his sword and a legend was born.
Catalonian Valentine’s Day
After this heroic deed, Sant Jordi (Saint George) became the patron saint of Catalonia. 23 April became the day of Sant Jordi. On this day, roses are sold everywhere, referring to him. Legend has it that from the blood of the dragon which touched the ground when Sant Jordi stabbed him to death, a rose grew. And so, since 1456, roses have been sold everywhere in Catalonia. This day is also called the day of lovers. Or Catalan Valentine’s Day.
One tradition of Lovers’ Day is that men buy a rose for every important woman in their lives. However, this is not the only tradition on this day. In 1995, Unesco officially declared 23 April World Book Day. Therefore, it is now also a tradition for women to buy books for men.
On 23 April, Tarragona has a book market on the Rambla Nova. But to really celebrate Sant Jordi you must go to MontBlanc, the village where the legend is told. Here, from 22 April to 1 May, a medieval festival is organised. This includes a theatre performance about the Sant Jordi legend.
Want to know more about the activities in MontBlanc? Then take a look at the website of the Medieval Festival.