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La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day) is a Catalan holiday held on April 23rd, with similarities to Valentine’s Day, but with some unique twists that reflect the antiquity of this celebration. This holiday is also know as El dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book), and since 1995 the UNESCO adopted April 23rd as World Book and Copyright Day.
The main event on this holiday is to exchange gifts between loved ones, sweethearts, family members or colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses and women a book in return – “a rose for love and a book forever”. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is more recent. This tradition began in 1923 when a bookseller started to commemorate the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on April 23rd, 1616.
At Barcelona’s La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are set up for the occasion. During the day most women will carry a rose in hand, and half of the yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this holiday. It is said that 4 million roses and 800.000 books are sold.