St George’s Day passes pretty quietly in the UK. We might see a few pubs decorated with St George’s cross flags, hear a few verses of Jerusalem, or spot a Morris dancer on a village green, but other than that it’s not really an occasion, despite calls over the years for a National Bank Holiday.
In Catalonia, the home of many of Saporista’s Spanish suppliers, it’s a very different story. Three traditions, of national pride, love and literature, are woven into one, resulting in a day of distinctive celebration of their patron saint St George (he's not exclusive to the English!) on April 23rd, La Diada de Saint Jordi. In the ancient castle town of Montblanc where the Catalonian version of the legend of St George and the Dragon is set, there is a full week of festivities.
We are all familiar with St George, saving the princess from being fed to a dragon terrorising her kingdom. In Catalonia the celebrations of their patron saint focus on the romantic element of the story, whereby the victorious George presents a red rose that has magically grown from the dead beast’s blood to the relieved princess. 23rd April is also known as dia dels enamorats, lovers’ day. Sprigs of wheat are tied to roses with red and yellow ribbon, representing the Senyera, the Catalonian national flag, and handed by lovers to their beloved.
In 1923 an enterprising bookseller in Barcelona jumped on the St George’s Day festivities as an opportunity to boost book sales by celebrating Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, who both conveniently died on the 23rd April 1616. A new tradition of gifting a book to your loved one was born. In days gone by ladies were given roses on La Diada de Saint Jordi, and men books, but fortunately most people are now agreed that ladies and men can enjoy books and flowers equally! In Catalonia 6 million roses and 800,000 books are sold on St Georges’ day - half the total annual book sales, and 40% of annual rose sales.
In Barcelona in particular, the famous streets such as La Rambla and the Passeig de Gracia are lined with book and flower stalls. Workshops and recitals take place, traditional sardanas are danced and castells (human towers) are built in the Plaza Sant Jaume. The famous Gaudi designed house, Casa Batlo, is decorated to represent the legend of George defeating the dragon.
In Mont Blanc, the home of boutique winery Clos Montblanc, supplier of our delicious white and rose Cavas, and where the famous man-on-dragon battle took place according to Catalonian legend, the Sant Jordi festival is celebrated over a week-long Medieval Festival. The whole town is decorated with ancestral standards and coats of arms, medieval soldiers and noble knights stroll the streets, the dragon fight is re-enacted and medieval suppers, music and markets are enjoyed.
If you’d like to learn more about the Catalonian festival of St Jordi, then join us with Clos Montblanc and Wine Alphabet on 22 April at 7.30pm on Zoom for a guided tasting of delicious Cava, and tales of the ancient traditions of the medieval legend. RSVP to the free event on our events page
and purchase a great value tasting pack for a full experience.
Look forward to seeing you there!