A rose and a book for Sant Jordi

TODAY is Sant Jordi (St George’s Day), a day traditionally celebrated in Cataluña and parts of Valencia by gifting a rose and a book to loved ones.

Legend has it that the traditional gifts stem from stories of a princess sent to be fed to a dragon who was rescued by St George. Although versions vary depending on the region, the roses, which were originally gifted to women, are seen to be a symbol of respect for the princess sent to placate the dragon, and the books (originally gifted to men) a sign of respect for the gentleman who saved her.

Some sources also claim the tradition of giving roses to women on the day goes back to the 15th century, when a rose fair was held in Barcelona at the same time of year.

This year book sellers in the northern region have a common aim for the day: to boost sales which have been low over the last few years due to the financial crisis, and to encourage the 35 per cent of the population who admit to rarely or never reading to pick up the habit.

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