What is #BooksAndRoses?
#BooksAndRoses is a project and a hashtag created to take an ancient tradition to the world, so that everybody can celebrate literature with a smile. 23 April is the day when books, roses and love come together in the context of an ancient tradition celebrated in Barcelona / Catalonia that is going global (130 international events, 102 cities, 42 countries in 2015). This websites features events organised all over the world that celebrate the #BooksAndRoses spirit, giving a book and rose on 23 April.
It all started with the legend of a sainted knight, a princess and a dragon. In the 15th century giving a rose to the women you love on 23 April (Sant Jordi) became a tradition in Catalonia. In the 1920s giving a book to the men you love was added. Tradition has come a long way and nowadays it is books and roses for everybody. At some point a group that included some Catalan publishers approached UNESCO and in 1995 the date 23 April was proclaimed World Book and Copyright Day. A “symbolic date for world literature” because it is also the date of birth or death of many writers, i.e. William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, Maurice Druon, Haldor K. Laxness, Ngaio Marsh, Vladimir Nabokov, Victoria Glendinning, Josep Pla, Teresa de la Parra, P. L. Travers or Manuel Mejía Vallejo. Nowadays, 23 April is the day when more than 1.5 million books and more than 6 million roses are sold in Catalonia.
The original idea of gathering information about each and every #BooksAndRoses event on a global, one-stop website was launched and curated by the North-American publisher Liz Castro in 2013!
Why and how to join #BooksAndRoses?
Celebrate 23 April and do so by putting smiles on peoples’ faces! Combining World Book and Copyright Day with #BooksAndRoses is a wonderful and simple way of paying tribute to books, literature, writers and the great pleasure of reading in general. Many bookshops (big and small) as well as libraries in many countries have already added the #BooksAndRoses spirit to their local celebrations. Please join in! Add #BooksAndRoses (literally, books and roses) to your own 23 April celebrations, or start a new event from scratch! Please also use the hashtag #BooksAndRoses so you can both tell and discover the world celebrating literature on and around 23 April! You can also add the global #BooksAndRoses campaign logo and avatar to local activity. For campaign materials make sure to check http://booksandroses.cat/2016/downloads.
Get inspired by 130 #BooksAndRoses events organised in 2015
With or without links to Barcelona / Catalonia (where it all started), many, diverse organizers across the globe already celebrate 23 April with books and roses, be it a #BooksAndRoses, Sant Jordi or UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day event (or all of them together). Get inspired by the 130 international events, in 102 cities and 42 countries organized in 2015 you can find on this website (www.booksandroses.cat/2016).
How to organize a #BooksAndRoses event myself?
The easiest way is to host a party and invite all your guests to bring a book to share. You can pick names out of a hat (“Secret #BooksAndRoses / Sant Jordi / World Book Day”) or choose the ones you like best. Enlist a local bookstore to set up a special stand with books and roses and some information about the tradition. Some bookstores offer a free rose with every purchase. Kids can get into the fun with arts and crafts and theater projects: creating paper roses, reading stories together, acting out the original legend of Sant Jordi. A very simple idea is to celebrate the original tradition of giving a books and rose to those who you appreciate. You can also share a book recommendation, a poem or any piece of literature by email. Take a look at the downloadable digital campaign materials on this website. Tell your friends and community using the #BooksAndRoses hashtag.
Is there a #BooksAndRoses celebration near me?
Probably, check the map on our front page to see where events are taking place on and around 23 April.
Hey, I know a celebration that’s not on your map!
Please tell us about it. There are so many going on that we can use all the help we can get. As the number of events grows, the list keeps growing longer. You can use the contact form found on this website (top right corner).
What is Sant Jordi?
According to legend Sant Jordi was a sainted knight who fought a dragon. Every year he is honoured as a patron saint on 23 April. Over the last six centuries, this date has become the day of love and literature when books and roses are exchanged in Catalonia. We think books and roses can be combined to celebrate literature all over the world. More information about the original tradition can be found, for example, on this governmental website http://web.gencat.cat/en/web/sant-jordi/compartim-santjordi/index.html and on the website of Barcelona City Council http://culturapopular.bcn.cat/en/festivals-and-traditions/sant-jordi.
And how did you start giving books?
We’ll take any excuse to give each other books! We’ve been celebrating Sant Jordi on April 23 for around 600 years—since 1436, but it wasn’t until 1929 that Barcelona-based writer and publisher Vicent Clavel organized a local celebration to promote books and reading. He chose April 23 because it’s also the anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes (author of “Don Quixote – The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha”) and William Shakespeare. In 1995, the celebration spread around the world when the UNESCO declared April 23 “World Book and Copyright Day”.
Is Sant Jordi the equivalent of Valentine’s Day?
Yes and no. While it is true that Sant Jordi is the day to give your lover a gift of a book and a rose, the emphasis is much more on the books rather than the romance. And the book-giving is not limited to lovers: parents give books to their kids, friends give books to their companions, and every woman gets a rose (alas, yes, generally, just women but who knows what the future may bring).
This looks great, I want to come to Barcelona / Catalonia and see how you celebrate in person! Why don’t you have information about events in Barcelona and other local towns and cities?
You will love it! Remember that Sant Jordi is always celebrated on April 23, no matter what day of the week it falls on, in every single town in Catalonia. In Barcelona, you’ll find the largest gatherings, and the most author signings, but don’t stop there. Mataró, a city close to Barcelona, is famous for its Fogonada fire festival and the charming walled city of Montblanc reenacts the legend of Sant Jordi each year in full regalia. Local hashtags used on Twitter or Instagram such as #SantJordi (#SantJordi15 #SantJordi2016) will give you an additional insight into the myriad of activities on the ground. This website (www.booksandroses.cat/2016) is dedicated to celebrations outside Catalonia which share the #BooksAndRoses tradition.
Foto: Anna Pallarès