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Why Book Day is celebrated on April 23

A bookstore (EFE).

April 23 is a date that every person who loves literature has marked in red on their calendar, since International Book Day is celebrated. Through this day, in which we will see the streets full of books and roses, we seek to promote and vindicate reading, protect copyright and make the publishing industry visible. It is also Saint George’s Day or Sant Jordi celebrated, above all, in the autonomous communities of Aragon and Catalonia, since it is its patron saint.

It is believed that Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and the origin of the election lies in that anniversary. Although, yes, the date of death of both authors is not official, it could be that of Cervantes a day before, on April 22.

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However, the first International Book Day was celebrated on October 7, 1926, when the Catalan writer Vicente Clavel Andrés proposed to commemorate the birth of Cervantes. He presented the idea of ​​establishing an official book day to the Official Book Chamber of Barcelona and they approved marking this day on the calendar.

Later, the doubt arose as to whether Cervantes had been born on that date, for this reason and because they wanted to hold an outdoor celebration in a time with a warmer climate, four years later, in 1930, on Book Day, they moved to April 23. A date that ended up coinciding with Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia, Aragon and England.

Student in the library (Pexels)

UNESCO approved the celebration of this day in 1995, after the International Union of Publishers proposed celebrating this day of literature to promote literary culture and at the same time protect intellectual property. The main objective is to support creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge.

The way to celebrate this day is different depending on the place, although perhaps the one that is most present to us or the one that first comes to mind is the Ramblas of Barcelona full of book and rose stalls for Sant Jordi. There are also meetings with authors, signatures of national and international writers, readings or recitals.

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In Madrid, the Night of the Books takes place, where bookstores open until midnight and offer cultural activities or author signings. Plus, all books are sold at a 10% discount. This same day, the Cervantes Prize is awarded, an award given to Latin American authors in Alcalá de Henares, where the writer was born.

Every year a world book capital is chosen, an initiative to promote reading through numerous activities. A designation that is carried out by UNESCO and that is only granted to those capitals that demonstrate a commitment to promoting reading. In 2001 Madrid managed to be the first city chosen. This 2024 the French city of Strasbourg has achieved this recognition. The city has a great commitment to literature, from the stay of Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century, through its creative community to its wide range of bookstores, publishers and libraries.

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