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The World Book Day in Spain

by Robert - Friday, April 26, 2013

April 23rd, a very special day in Spain

This date is not celebrated this way anywhere else in the world. In Madrid and Barcelona, lots of events take place on this day. People fill the streets of the cities and purchase or exchange books in memory of the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.  This is how World Book Day is celebrated.

Every year on April 23rd, Spaniards celebrate International Book Day (or as it’s called in Spanish: “Día del libro”). Although the first World Book Day officially took place in 1995, the tradition has a long history. In fact, in Catalonia the day was already celebrated as “the Day of the Rose” in 1436, when gifts were exchanged between sweethearts and loved ones. The tradition of exchanging books dates back to 1926, when people wanted to establish an event in the memory of Miguel de Cervantes.

The specific date was chosen by booksellers in Spain to honor the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on April 22nd in 1616. In 1995, UNESCO declared April 23rd as “World Book and Copywrite Day” which is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, the birth of the authors Manuel Mejía Vallejo, Maurice Druon and Halldór Laxness and the death of Josep Pla and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

The Royal Spanish Academy

This year, World Book Day was celebrated in Madrid with more than 500 events, including people dressed up as famous protagonists, book conferences, lectures, book sales, book signings and workshops. The Royal Spanish Academy opened its doors for almost 400 visitors for this special event, which is where the original copy of Don Quijote, one of the most famous books of all time, is kept.

The Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens also offered a special tour for bookworms and Cervantes fans. Amongst others, a suggested itinerary entitled “Las Plantas en el Quijote” incited the visitors to stroll around imagining scenes from the famous novel, “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha”.

One plant which especially stands out is la encina (the oak), a tree that is very typical for Mancha forests and is mentioned more than 20 times in Cervantes’ novel. Other plants that appear in the novel are el alcornoque (the cork tree), and the la jara (gum rockrose).

When Don Quijote rides along river banks, he passes álamos (cottonwoods), olmos (elms), and sauces (willows). Also edible plants of the novel were cultivated, including ajo (garlic), cebolla (onion), olivos (olives) and romero (rosemary).  

The Real Academia Española and the Royal Botanical Gardens are two of the many venues that host these special events on “El Día de Libros”. There are hundreds of other places to be explored on the same date. If you are fond of reading and want to explore a new country, then why not spend next April 23rd in sunny Spain?

Keywords: don quijote,cervantes,real academia española,spanish literature,world book day,international book day


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