Books 3

Celebrating World Book Day Across the Globe

April 23rd is World Book Day, celebrated across the globe. The reference to the Globe Theater also stands, since UNESCO picked the day of the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, the idea for the World Book Day was originally to honor the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll recognize his most famous book, Don Quijote.

The original idea for the Wold Book Day came from Spain, to either coincide with the birthday (October 7th) or the death day (April 23rd) of Cervantes. In 1995 UNESCO adapted the idea, and decided to use the death date since it also coincided with the death date of other prominent authors, Shakespeare and Wordsworth among them. Since then, April 23rd is the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day.

Miguel de Cervantes

Though few people recognize his name outside of his native Spain, everyone knows Cervantes’ best work, Don Quijote. Originally named El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote de la Mancha). Plays and ballet shows are based on the book, considered by many one of the greatest novels ever written, the first European modern novel. Published in two parts in 1605 and 1615, the novel has been interpreted many times and many ways, and influenced many literary, theatrical and musical works.

Cervantes, Don Quijote

Using a bookworm as a protagonist who reads too many stories of knights, Cervantes puts Alonso Quijano, who renames himself Don Quijote, in all sorts of situations, sends him on adventures and travels, where he mixes the real world with his imaginary situations. Though he wrote plays, poems, and another novel, Cervantes is remembered and still known for Don Quijote.

William Shakespeare

Of course, everyone knows who Shakespeare is, the bard of the Globe Theater in London, playwright, poet, and actor, considered the greatest English writer of all times, and the world’s best dramatist. You don’t even need to be English to know who Shakespeare is; I knew of him and read his works in translations before I knew a word of English. And if you didn’t read any of his works, you probably saw them on stage.

His plays have been translated in every language, and are still performed on every stage. From lighthearted comedies, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to famous tragedies like Hamlet or Othello, through tragicomedies and historical dramas, his works have been payed and replayed through the centuries, while they never lost their appeal.

Shakespeare is also still studied in school – and not only in his home country or other English-speaking schools. So, as he belongs to the world, it is fitting to designate World Book Day on the anniversary of his death (April 23rd, 1616).

Celebrating International World Book Day

More than 100 countries across the globe celebrate World Book Day, from Spain and England to the rest of Europe, the Americas, India, China, Egypt, among many others. No matter where they live, book lovers seize an opportunity to talk about books, read more books, gift books to others.

During the past year, World Book Day has become even more important, as the world has been in lockdown. While we couldn’t travel or move about much, books offered a way to leave our homes through our imagination.

In Catalonia, the region of Spain where the idea of World Book Day originated, also celebrates St George’s, Catalonia’s patron saint, on the same day. They celebrate St George Day since 1436, by exchanging gifts. Since it is both World Book Day and St George Day, in Catalonia people give friends and family books and roses.

In Catalonia and the rest of Spain, they celebrate Book Day since 1923, though at first it was on October 7th, the birth day of Cervantes. But, since they celebrated it by browsing open-air bookstores, they changed it to April 23, the anniversary of the writer’s death, since it was a nicer time of the year to be outside.

In England they celebrate World Book Night on April 23rd, since World Book Day is really celebrated in March. On the first Thursday in March, every child in a public school receives a voucher to spend on books. In the UK and Ireland World Book Day is a registered charity event promoting reading by offering every child and young adult the opportunity to own a book.

Every Day Is Book Day

I could claim that every day is book day in my house. We have books in every room of the house, including each bedroom and kitchen; on bookshelves, on tables, on the floor, in the closets (where normal people would keep their clothes), under beds, behind glass, on shelves even in the garage and laundry room… I guess I believe that:

“A room without books is like a body without soul.”

Cicero
books everywhere

Or maybe we are just all readers – and not organized enough to keep our books in bookcases. Although to fit them all, we’d need a lot more shelves. And we still don’t have as many books as I grew up with. We had wall-to-wall home-made shelves filled with books in two rooms, besides two “normal” bookcases, everything filled to the brim with books… I guess since I grew up surrounded by books, I have to be surrounded by them my whole life.

Books I read and re-read over and over; books I bought that I still need to get to, books I read once but can never part with, children’s books we can’t part with, novels and poetry books, fiction and non-fiction, old collectibles, and cheap paperbacks, and everything in between… Yes, I love books.

Books

But all these books helped us all cope with being locked down for over a year, helped us travel the world when we couldn’t leave the house, helped me visit my old country when I couldn’t fly back in person. So, as messy as they make the house, books are staying. And while I celebrate books every day, I take the opportunity world book day offers to talk about books – to anyone who would listen.

vintage books

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