The International Day of the Book is approaching. Do you know on which day it falls? On April 23rd! It’s almost here. So start getting ready for this really special occasion and have a little something prepared for your nearest and dearest.
If you have a penchant for books and roses but you are not quite sure what this celebration is about, we will fill you in:
The origins of World Book Day
The choice of the date, April 23rd, is no coincidence. It turns out that, in 1616, two eminent writers passed away on this very day: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. Besides this tradition, Catalonia sees the celebration of a really special feast day where flowers take centre stage, namely, Saint George’s Day, or the Diada de Sant Jordi.
Red roses fill the streets
The legend of Saint George is an extraordinary tale that has become a symbol of love. The story goes that, in the 15th century, the village of Montblanc found itself at the mercy of an evil dragon that devoured its livestock and then its inhabitants. To quell the dragon’s fury, the king decided to cast lots, and each person whose name was drawn was sacrificed. However, one day, fate drew the king’s daughter and, with great sorrow, she had to be handed over. But as the princess drew closer to the dragon’s den, a knight astride a white horse appeared, attacking and slaying the beast with his lance. In that spot, at the gates to Montblanc, from the dragon’s blood sprouted a rose, which the knight gave to the princess. This knight was none other than Saint George. That’s why, on April 23rd, in Catalan cities such as Barcelona, as well as it being tradition to buy books to give as presents, it is also typical for lovers to give each other roses. In the run-up to and on this special day, the streets abound with the colour and fragrance of roses. Most women carry their rose or bouquet of roses in their hand, and the most romantic couples get them delivered to their homes, in original shapes and forms.
This is just one of the many stories surrounding the legendary Saint George, who is also the patron saint of England, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ethiopia and Georgia.
Port Harcourt in Nigeria was named World Book Capital 2014, and Incheon in South Korea has earned the designation for 2015. Hopefully the beautiful tradition of red roses will spread to more cities!
Thanks to Lali Masriera for the picture: http://goo.gl/bXDYYG