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Dear foodies, welcome back to our new series, which we created to help you make the most of your time in Barcelona. 

Today, we will unveil the story behind one of Catalunya’s most significant yearly celebrations, and why you’ll spot roses throughout the city. Consider yourself lucky if you are in town, as you are in Barcelona on the best day possible!

The smell of roses will reach you wherever you walk because the city celebrates St.George, the region’s patron. The 23rd of April, commemorating his death, became the most celebrated civic, cultural, and patriotic day in Barcelona and Catalonia. If you stroll around the city, you can also see many balconies decorated with the Senyera – the Catalan flag – and roses and book stalls that seem to have appeared overnight along the Rambla and Passeig de Gràcia, as well as in nearby squares and streets. To understand why these symbols are used in the celebration on the 23rd of April, we are about to discover the legend of the dragon together. 

When St.George was decapitated because he refused to obey a command to persecute Christians, many legends started to spread about him. The most famous one tells that a terrible dragon was destroying Montblanc in the south of Catalonia. Each day, he demanded the sacrifice of a person chosen by lot. The princess was unluckily picked to be sacrificed, but St.George saved her by defeating the dragon. From the dragon’s blood, a rosebush with red roses grew. So, Sant Jordi picked up a rose and offered it to the princess. From that moment on, we give roses to those we care about to show them our love.

Today, you can’t miss seeing Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces completed in 1904. Its façade is adorned with a cascade of roses, exuding an aura of romance and mystique. Each element of the façade bears profound symbolism rooted in the Sant Jordi legend

Reach the location and stand in front of the building. Gaze upwards towards its roof: the cross of four arms represents St.George’s sword. It is placed right next to scale-shaped tiles that symbolize the Dragon. The Arcade room Centenaries, instead, represents the Dragon’s rib cage, while the flower-shaped balcony is the princess’s balcony. The other balconies feature the remains of the dragon victims and their skulls, while the columns represent their bones. Looking right in front of you, the lobby at the house’s entrance is the dragon’s tail. 

Indeed, Sant Jordi is more than just a celebration; it’s a joyful ode to culture and love. It is the equivalent of St.Valentine’s Day for Catalan people, and everyone symbolically expresses their love by giving each other a rose or a book. It is very common to find books in the stalls that talk about Catalonia or books in Catalan, as these days are also seen as homages to the region’s rich heritage and linguistic identity.

The Fest Day’s association with books dates back to the 1920s when a festival to promote books in Catalonia took place. The initiative was so successful that it was repeated every 23rd of April—the day Shakespeare and Cervantes died—for this reason, the 23rd of April is also called Book Day.

Enjoy your day of legend, roses, books, and discovery around the city while we wait for you at The Paella Club. For us, the celebration of love and passion transcends the 23rd of April: it’s a daily affair, infused into every relationship, culinary creation, and shared experience.

Let the magic of Sant Jordi guide your footsteps as you uncover Barcelona’s hidden gems and timeless wonders. Until then, ¡adéu i fins aviat! (Goodbye, and see you soon!)

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