Sant Jordi to be celebrated in 50 countries worldwide

One of Catalonia’s most beloved festivals, Sant Jordi, will be celebrated in a record 50 countries worldwide this year. Although Catalonia’s Patron Saint Day is on the 23rd of April, there are activities related to books and roses—the main protagonists of the day—scheduled over the course of a few weeks in New York, Bogotá, London, Melbourne, Johannesburg, and many others. The Delegations of the Catalan Government abroad play a key role in exporting Sant Jordi around the world. Also active is the Institut Ramon Llull (IRL), which is a public institution in charge of promoting Catalan culture and language, and the University Network of Catalan Studies Abroad. Thus, exhibitions, public readings, stalls selling books and roses, and elements of Catalan culture, such as traditional human towers (Castellers), will deliver the spirit of Sant Jordi all over the globe.

Roses and books to celebrate Sant Jordi's Day at London's Borough Market (by ACN)
Roses and books to celebrate Sant Jordi's Day at London's Borough Market (by ACN) / ACN


April 21, 2017 10:48 AM

Barcelona (CNA).- On the 23rd of April, Catalonia celebrates one of its most beloved traditions: Sant Jordi. Thousands flock to the streets all over the territory to celebrate Catalan culture and exchange books and roses with their loved ones. Moreover, since UNESCO declared the 23rd of April International Book Day in 1995, the festival has gained popularity across the globe. This year, more than 50 countries have scheduled exhibitions, public readings, and other activities related to Sant Jordi throughout the week. All these events are gathered together under the #BooksAndRoses label and promoted by the Delegations of the Catalan Government abroad and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat). The Delegations of the Catalan Government abroad play a key role in exporting this festival around the world, together with the Institut Ramon Llull (IRL), which is a public institution in charge of promoting Catalan culture and language, andthe University Network of Catalan Studies Abroad.


The Books and Roses celebration this year started on the 6th of April with a literary contest organized by Catalans UK, the Catalan Association in London and will last until the 6th of May, with Cologne, Germany being the last city to hold activities related to Sant Jordi. Most of the events are voluntarily organized by Catalans living abroad through the Delegations of the Catalan Government abroad and the Catalan Associations, of which there are 125 located in 40 different countries. 

Although stalls selling books and roses are the main protagonists, there is also live music, representations of the medieval legend of ‘Sant Jordi’, exhibitions, and other demonstrations of Catalan culture such as food tasting, traditional dances, or even tradition human towers, ‘Castellers’.

Besides the well established Sant Jordi celebration at London’s Borough Market or the Catalan Week organized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst there are also new initiatives such as poetry night in New York or Catalan film screenings in Verona.

Tokyo will host one of the most complete Sant Jordi celebrations, bringing together books, roses, food tasting, the public reading of the children's book Pitus’ Zoo and the chivalric romance Tirant Lo Blanc both in Catalan and Japanese, an exhibition of Puig i Cadafalch’s modernist architecture, and a cello and ‘kato’ duet.

However, it is Europe which will host the largest number of Sant Jordi activities. In addition to books and roses celebrations in London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Helsinki and the main capital cities, Glasgow will organize the second “Contested Identities: Cultural Dialogues between Small Nations” event which compares identity issues among Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, the Basque Country, and Galicia. Tubingen University, in Germany, will also screen the film ‘Alcaldessa’ which explains Ada Colau’s career as a social activist and her rise to the office of Mayor of Barcelona in 2015.

Sant Jordi celebrations have also gathered interest in the United States.‘Sant Jordi in New York: Dragons & Books & Roses Festival’, was organized by The Farragut Fund for Catalan Culture in the US and Catalan Institute of America, with the support of Diplocat and IRL. The city will not only offer books and roses stalls and explain Sant Jordi’s legend to visitors but also offer conferences about literature and poetry, readings, and book signings by Catalan authors.

In addition to New York, Chicago, Amherst and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Georgetown, and Boulder, Colorado will also host Sant Jordi activities, mostly through their university’s communities.

Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and many other countries in Central and South America will also hold Sant Jordi celebrations, mainly organized through the Catalan Communities which have flourished there since the era of the Francoism dictatorship in Spain.

Many cities in Australia as well as the capital of South Africa, Johannesburg, have also fallen for Sant Jordi and will host activities related to literature and Catalan culture.

Jersualem, in Israel, will focus on the translation between Hebrew and Catalan. The conference ‘Translation between two minority languages’, by translator Itai Ron will be one of the main activities held at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s central library.