April 23rd… World Book Day also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book. This celebration dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The history of the book becomes festive and literary activities arise throughout Spain. Today, the 23rd of April is celebrated all over the world, as “International Book Day”.
The Origin of Book Day dates back to 1926. On April 23rd, 1616 Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died. Other eminent writers such as Maurice Druon, K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla or Manuel Mejía Vallejo either were born or passed away on April 23rd. For this reason, this symbolic date for universal literature was chosen by UNESCO’s General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and their authors, and to encourage everyone, especially young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and to respect the irreplaceable contribution of creators to social and cultural progress.
The original idea for the celebration of Book Day came from Catalonia, from the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés, proposing it to the Official Book Chamber of Barcelona in 1923 and approved by King Alfonso XIII of Spain in 1926. October 7, 1926 was the first Day of the Book. However, shortly after, in 1930, the date of April 23 was definitively established as Book Day, as this day coincides with Saint George’s Day – Saint George, is patron saint of Germany, Aragon, Bulgaria, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, England, Lebanon, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Mexico.
On this date, it is traditional to give a rose at the end of a reading, event or proclamation and for lovers and loved ones to exchange a rose and a book.
In 1995 the day of the book becomes a world festivity. Book Day was proposed by the International Publishers Union (UTE), and presented by the Spanish government to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 1995, it was approved to proclaim April 23rd as “World Book and Copyright Day”.
If you want to feel the tradition of the Festival of the Day of the Book, initiated in 1926, you can begin your walk by the Rambla de Catalunya, in Barcelona, thousands of commercial-stops of booksellers and florists wrap the “city of culture” with books. You can demonstrate and feel the love of people when you receive or give a rose. And Barcelona becomes the meeting point for associations, institutions, libraries, writers and authors from all over the world, who meet to sign their works, illustrations, and other means of communication, and walk through the streets of the city.
There are thousands of places of interest in more than 100 countries to celebrate International Book and Copyright Day. As an example, more than 600 events are held in Madrid today, (April 23) as the preamble to the 15-day Book Fair.
In Mexico City, Bogotá, Santiago, Valencia, La Victoria, Buenos Aires, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, Quito, Managua, Maracay, New York, Los Angeles, Medellín, Guatemala City, Valparaiso, many European, American, Asian, African cities, and even in Vietnam International Book Day is celebrated… Join the world, celebrate with us… read a book today!
In Emily Dickinson´s words… “To travel far, there is no better ship than a book”.
José E. Urioste Palomeque for The Yucatan Times
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