Spanish national flag carrier Iberia just flew more than four million roses from South America to Spain in time for Día de San Jorge (St. George’s Day), or, in Catalan, Sant Jordi. While Saint George may be the patron saint of England, he is also an important figure in the history of Spain. Just like in the United Kindom, the Festa de Sant Jordi is held across Catalonia and Valencia on 23rd April, the day St. George died.
Legend says that while serving as a soldier in the Roman army, Roman emperor Diocletian had St. George decapitated after he refused to persecute Christians. Soon afterward, news of his sacrifice started to spread, and he became revered as a martyr. The cult of St. George spread throughout Catalonia and Valencia during the Middle Ages, with Catalonia appointing him as its patron saint in 1456.
A rose on St. George’s Day
One of the stories surrounding St. George is him slaying a terrible dragon that was killing the livestock around Montblanc in the province of Tarragona. Tradition says that a king’s daughter had drawn the short straw and was to be offered to the dragon as a sacrifice but dodged death after Sant Jordi appeared and killed the beast. The legend adds that a bunch of red roses sprouted from the dragon’s blood.
Because of this story, it became a tradition for young men in Barcelona to present their girlfriend with a rose on St. George’s Day. Seeing an opportunity, Valencian writer and the director of the Cervantes publishing house, Clavel i Andrés, came up with the idea that the girls getting the rose should reciprocate by giving their boyfriends a book. April 23rd was also the ideal day for this as it was the day on which two of the greatest literary figures, Cervantes and Shakespeare, died.
The roses came from Colombia and Ecuador
Knowing that fresh roses would be in demand across Catalonia on April 23rd, Iberia used its daily flights from Ecuador and Colombia to transport more than four million roses to Spain.
When speaking about the special flower flights in a company statement Regional Commercial Director for Latin America at IAG Cargo Rodrigo Casal said:
“We transport hundreds of tons of flowers around the world, and Sant Jordi is one of the important dates marked on our calendar. In 2019, we transported 4.8 million roses to Barcelona before Sant Jordi, and we hope to see a similar flow this year; in fact, we have already transported more than four million to arrive on time for the celebration of this highly-marked holiday. “
Fernando Terol, director of the Spanish Center and Operations of IAG Cargo, added:
“At IAG Cargo, we are delighted to support the distribution of flowers for the Sant Jordi festival through our“ constant fresh ”product. At the Madrid Hub, we have refrigerated trucks to transport this merchandise from the aircraft’s warehouses to the Cargo Terminal, maintaining the cold chain, as well as specific facilities for handling perishable products.”
The roses are in markets within 72 hours
To make sure that the delicate flowers arrive in pristine condition, IAG Cargo uses its product “constant fresh” to keep the flowers at a consistently cool temperature of between zero and two degrees Celsius (32 to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
IAG Cargo says that it can get fresh flowers to markets in Spain in just 72 hours after being cut while maintaining a cold chain and the required humidity.
What do you think about Barcelona’s Sant Jordi traditions? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.