23rd April is World Book and Copyright Day, and also St. George’s Day. In Catalonia, it has a special meaning, and a most wonderful, traditional gesture.
On 23rd April, World Book Day is celebrated all over the world. In Spain, it is a day to encourage reading and the enjoyment of literature. It is also a day to commemorate the great Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, with the presentation of the prize which bears his name.
World Book Day is an opportunity to give the gift of literature, share your love of reading with friends and family, and indulge in a little (or lot) of book shopping. On Book Night in Madrid, bookshops stay open until midnight with a special cultural programme. In addition, there’s a 10% discount for books bought that day.
In Barcelona, 23rd April is also a day for all the family to enjoy a book-focused day.
Festival of San Jordi
St George is known as San Jordi in Catalonia and, according to tradition, it is customary to give the gift of a book to men and a rose to women. Nowadays, a combination of the two is just as likely.
Why the rose? The legend of St. George has it that after he slew the dragon, a rose grew from dragon’s blood. St. George gave the rose to the princess as a token of his love and admiration.
Cities like Barcelona transform into enormous open-air bookshops-cum-florist’s. From pre-loved books to new works signed by the authors, you can find just the book(s) for you.
Cervantes and ‘Don Quixote’
On 23 April, the birthplace of the writer Miguel de Cervantes, Alcalá de Henares, is the centre of attention. In the auditorium of the University, the King and Queen of Spain present the Cervantes Prize, the most important literary distinction awarded for works in the Spanish language.
In the Column Room at the Círculo de Bellas Artes academy in Madrid, there is a non-stop reading of the novel. It takes around 48 hours of uninterrupted reading. Figures from the world of culture and politics, as well as ‘ordinary’ citizens.
Discover Spain through literature
Spain has a rich literary history, and it is a great way to access the culture of the country. From Don Quixote’s escapades to the Madrid of Carlos Ruis Zafón, Gerald Brenan’s insight into life in Málaga, the monument to Laurie Lee in Almuñecar and the house of Federico Garcia Lorca – Spain opens up to you through the words of great writers.
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