April twenty-third (the festival is on the nearest Sunday) is a symbolic day in world literature. Declared as International Day of the Book by UNESCO in 1995, this celebration of books and literature draws its inspiration from a Catalan tradition, the Festival of the Rose.
Legend has it that Saint George, Patron Saint of Catalonia (Spain) and international knight-errant, slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful Catalan princess. From the dragon’s blood sprouted a rosebush, from which the hero plucked the prettiest rose for the princess. Hence the traditional Rose Festival celebrated in Barcelona since the Middle Ages to honor chivalry and love. In 1923, this lover’s “festa” became even more poetic when it merged with “el dia del llibre”, or The Day of the Book, to mark the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, the two giants of literary history, on April 23, 1616.
On this day in Barcelona, bookstalls and street festivities run the length of the picturesque La Rambla, the old city’s main boulevard and, according to the Spanish author Garcia Lorca, “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”.
The Pauli Bellet Foundation Catalan Library, the Town of Kensington, and all our sponsors, invite you to celebrate this wonderful day on Howard Ave, our “La Rambla”.
Links for further reading about The International Day of the Book:
World Book and Copyright Day at UNESCO