MADRID, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The St George's Day, which is celebrated on April 23 each year, will give a much-needed boost to booksellers in the region of Catalonia and also in the Spanish capital of Madrid.
The streets of the Catalan capital Barcelona are filled with stalls selling books and flowers, thanks to the tradition of giving the gift of a rose to women and a book to men in memory of the solider in the Roman army, who, legend says, slew a dragon and saved a princess.
The legend says the blood of a dragon turned into a rose, which St George then gave to the princess.
The tradition for book giving dated back to 1923, when a bookseller in Barcelona decided to take advantage of the fact that April 23 is also the anniversary of the deaths of William Shakespeare and Manuel Cervantes in 1616.
That bookseller's initiative has been a success over the past 90 years.
This year, according to the El Pais newspaper, booksellers in Barcelona are optimistic of repeating last year's figure of sales of 1.5 million books to the value of 18.3 million euros (25.41 million US dollars): over 7 percent of the total book sales for the year.
A total of 758 licenses to sell books have been granted by the Barcelona local authority this year and many authors made public appearances to carry out signing sessions, although book sales are still expected to be down on pre-crisis figures of five years ago.
Flower sellers in Catalonia are not expecting such a successful day, though it is still estimated they will sell over 6 million flowers, which is below the figure of 7 million for flowers sold in recent years.
The fall in flowers sale is blamed on the decision by the Spanish government to raise the rate of sales tax from 8 percent to 21 percent at the start of September 2012. The corresponding price rises subsequently had a negative effect on flower sales, although the Barcelona city council has granted 4,977 licenses to sell roses in 2014.
It is not just in Catalonia where St George is recognized by the sale of books. The capital city Madrid also celebrates "Book Day" under the banner "I'll give you a book if you give me a book."
Book Day sees stalls set up in several key areas of the capital with books ranging from best-sellers to valuable antique editions all on sale to the public.