Apart from signifying bravery, dating back to the legend of St George slaying a dragon to save a princess, the day has similarities to Valentine’s Day. On Sant Jordi, gifts are exchanged between sweethearts and loved ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—‘a rose for love and a book forever’. In modern times, the mutual exchange of books has also become customary.
In towns around Calalonia and the Balearic Islands, stalls are set up over several days displaying all sorts of literary material for sale, from modern and historic fiction, biographies and children’s books to travel guides, dictionaries and cookery books. The idea is to encourage people, especially children, to read more or to try something different, while other stalls sell the traditional roses of Sant Jordi to signify romance and love. The whole occasion is very popular and well attended, with each town putting on its own programme of activities, making for a great atmosphere in the streets.