On April 23, Barcelona begins its annual celebration of chivalry and romance. It all started in the Middle Ages with the Festival of Roses honoring St. George, patron saint of Catalonia and a brave Roman soldier. When St. George allegedly slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful young princess, legend tells us a rosebush grew from the blood of the slain dragon. The soldier plucked its most perfect bloom to give to the princess as a remembrance.
In 1923 the Festival of Roses merged with UNESCO's World Book Day, established to draw attention to the lives of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, both of whom died on April 23. The day continues to be a celebration of culture, beauty, intelligence, and love.