Tomorrow on April 23rd, we will celebrate one of Barcelona's biggest festivals - La Diada de Sant Jordi. (My family will also be celebrating the delivery of our container to our new house, but let's not count our chickens before they hatch!) Apparently, this is a huge celebration, Sant Jordi that is, - a bit of Valentine's day with a bookish twist.
Sant Jordi is the patron saint of Catalunya. So, the story goes, the knight Sant Jordi saved a princess by slaying a dragon and a rose bloomed in the dragon's blood. Since the Middle Ages, Barcelona has celebrated the event with a rose for your dear love. In 1923, a marketing-savvy bookseller merged Sant Jordi celebrations with the book gift-giving by honoring the day that both Cervantes and Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616. To be technical, Cervantes and Shakespeare didn't actually both die on the 23rd because the country in which they lived were using different calendars, Gregorian and Julian respectively. In 1995, UNESCO declared April 23rd World Book and Copyright Day due to the Catalunian Sant Jordi celebration of book giving, the deaths of Cervantes, Shakespeare and births/deaths of other well-known writers (free children's book in Spanish to the first person who comments with another writer that born/died on this day).