Friday 23rd April is St George’s Day and the Central Library is embracing the Catalan tradition of celebrating the day with books and roses and a special display in the foyer. Our desks will be decked with the last of the season’s roses and we encourage you (as if you need encouraging!) to visit, borrow and read.
In Catalonia (Spain), the day is known as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one. This tradition inspired UNESCO to declare this the International Day of the Book, since April 23, 1616 was also the date of death of both the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar) and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (according to the Gregorian calendar).
In Catalan cities like Barcelona books are sold in the streets on long stalls prepared specially for the grand occasion. Many people take advantage of this day, even though they may not normally be regular readers, to buy and enjoy a book. It is one way of encouraging people to read.
Saint George puts himself about a bit as patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Russia. He is also the patron saint of boy scouts, cavalry, chivalry, farmers and soldiers. Personally I like the books and roses.
So why not buy a book and a rose for someone this Friday (Or bring your favourite librarians a rose!)