In Catalonia, The Most Romantic Holiday You've Never Heard Of

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woman reading with roses in foreground
Catalonia's festival of St. Jordi is like Valentine's Day, but cooler.

Forget February 14th. The most romantic day of the year is April 23rd... at least, it is if you're in Catalonia, Spain.

This Saturday, Catalonian lovers will celebrate the lovey-doviest day of the year on the festival of Sant Jordi. In Catalonian culture, the festival is marked by an appealing tradition: men give women roses, and women give men books. Hey, there's nothing sexier than a man who reads.

On April 23rd, lovers leave work early or skip it entirely in favor of canoodling on park benches. Booksellers and rose-peddlers set up shop in the crowded streets, and Catalonians stop among them, selecting the perfect gifts for their sweethearts.

The legend of St. Jordi involves its titular saint slaying a dragon, saving a princess, and then offering the princess a red rose from a rose bush which sprouted where the dragon's blood had fallen. In celebration of his festival, men have traditionally offered red roses to their novias. Valentine's Day Traditions Around The World

The tradition of women giving men books is much more recent. A writer named Vicent Clavel Andrés created "Book Day" in the early 1920s, celebrated on October 7th. By 1930, the date had been changed to April 23rd, not to coincide with St. Jordi's day, but because it was the death date of both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.

Books quickly became popular as St. Jordi's festival gifts, and some booksellers began to capitalize on the trend by offering a free rose for every book purchased. Literary readings happen throughout the city, and 24-hour marathon readings of Don Quixote have become a popular trend. 4 Books For Every Couple's Summer Reading List

Reading and roses? Sounds like a holiday worth celebrating to us. Oh, and did we mention that Catalonia is the world's main producer of cava, a sparkling wine that's basically prosecco's sexier sister?

There's no reason to wait for Valentine's Day to roll around when you can celebrate like a Catalonian right now. Grab a bubbly bottle of cava and curl up to enjoy a favorite book with your sweetheart this weekend. Don't forget the roses, and don't forget to thank St. Jordi. After all, this year you get to celebrate the most romantic day of the year twice!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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