23 April is Saint George’s Day (in Catalan, Sant Jordi) and also the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, when love and literature are celebrated massively throughout Catalonia and, more and more, in many other places around the world. People exchange books and roses (#BooksAndRoses) on this day as a sign of gratitude. In just one day, in Catalonia, more than 1.5 million books and 6 million roses are sold. For many years, this celebration has been spreading around the world, and 150 events have already been organised by volunteers in 50 countries in recent years. Let’s get the whole world to celebrate 23 April by exchanging books and roses (#Booksandroses)!
The #BooksAndRoses campaign (website, hashtag, social networks) shows the great diversity of organisers and events held around the world (outside Catalonia). The motivations are quite diverse: while some have limited themselves to importing the exchange of books and roses, others have decided to observe all the elements of the traditional Sant Jordi celebration. All the celebrations spread and share their passion for literature, books and reading.
The Irish Saint Patrick’s Day or the Lunar New Year have been celebrated around the world for some time. Exchanging books and roses on 23 April is a fun way to generate smiles and promote literature wherever you may be. We want to share this custom with the whole world.
In 2021 there were:
Who organises it?
The events are organised by a wide variety of volunteers, such as Catalan communities abroad and cultural centres, numerous bookstores (small and large), the international branches and departments of the Catalan government (Institut Ramon Llull, Catalan Tourism Board, Acció, etc.), and independent individuals and other groups. The #BooksAndRoses campaign spreads the diversity of the celebrations all around the world and is centred on this website. It was the American editor Liz Castro who had, in 2013, the original idea of compiling the information on all the events associated with books and roses for 23 April onto a single website. Ever since the exchange of books and roses became a tradition in the 1920s, similar celebrations have been organised in different places in the world (just as is explained on the flyer you’ll find at the bottom of this page or on the Downloads page).
How did this whole book-giving thing start?
Any excuse is good for giving books! In Catalonia, Sant Jordi, on 23 April, has been celebrated for some 600 years –since 1436– but it wasn’t until the year 1929 that the Valencian writer and editor living in Barcelona Vicent Clavel organised a local festival to promote books and reading. He chose 23 April because it coincided with the anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. In 1995, UNESCO declared 23 April “World Book and Copyright Day”. Take a look at this flyer where everything is explained.
Is Sant Jordi the equivalent of Valentine’s Day?
Yes and no. It’s true that on the day of Sant Jordi, people give books and roses to their significant others, but the emphasis is on the books. And the act of giving books isn’t just for couples: parents give books to their children, friends give books to each other, and all women receive a rose (yes, generally women, but who knows how this could evolve in the future).
How can you participate in #BooksAndRoses?
Download the flyers or templates in “downloads“, and check out the “News” section to discover new ideas, good practices and news from around the world. If you just want to know where the celebrations are held to inform your international friends, take a look at the map in the “Esdeveniments” section. Spread the word with the hashtag #BooksAndRoses!
I want to see what’s planned for 23 April in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia!
This website only contains info on the celebrations organised outside Catalonia and which include the #BooksAndRoses spirit (whether or not they are traditional Sant Jordi celebrations). You can follow the celebrations in Catalonia through social networks with the hashtags #SantJordi, #SantJordi2022 or #SantJordi22.