23 April 2005. What do Barcelona, Malta, England and many similar countries, cities and regions have in common? The patron saint of all of them happens to be St George, a fourth century Palestinian Christian who was tortured and beheaded for his faith, at least according to legend. The Roman Catholic saints day for St George falls on 23 April, which is the day that Barcelona celebrates Sant Jord, a Catalan version of St. Valentines Day when sweethearts gift red roses to one another. Legend says that the saint himself killed a dragon (somewhere in modern day Lebanon) and a red rose sprouted inexplicably from a drop of its blood. George than gave the rose to the princess he had saved, starting off a tradition that lives on to this day as boys buy girls roses, some four million of them in Barcelona alone, in a single day. The girls though traditionally give a book to their boyfriends. It is something of a coincidence the Cervantes died on St Georges Day (it is also William Shakespeares birthday!). Head to Las Ramblas and browse amongst the thousands of books available from hundreds of book stalls lining the central avenue.

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St George's Day.

Las Ramblas