Thursday, April 25, 2013

World Book Day

The 23rd of April we celebrated the World Book Day.

We celebrate this day because on the same day in 1616 Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega passed away. There were also lots of other excellent writers just like Maurice Druon, K. Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo, who were born or died on the 23rd of April. That’s also the reason that this date, which has a symbolic signification for literature, was chosen by the General Conference of the UNESCO for honoring books and their writers and for encouraging everyone, especially the youngsters, to discover the pleasure of reading. The idea of this celebration was born in Cataluña (Spain), where on this day they traditionally give a rose to the buyer of a book.
There are also some other events on that day, that have actually nothing to do with books:
The day of the Community in Castilla León, because on the 23rd of April in 1521 the Battle of Villalar in the countryside of Valladolid was set free. They confronted the members of the Castilian community, which was a little army that was mostly made up by farmers, with the imperial forces of the new king Carlos I. Carlos I entered a little while before from Flandes with barely knowing a word of Castilian and was the most powerful European king of the moment. The comuneros were massacred and the battle, of which they knew it would be a bloodbath, for the freedom and for the rejection imposed from the outside, was recorded in the history forever.
Another event that took place on April 23 of the year 303 was the one on where San Jorge, leader of Aragón and Cataluña (and other countries and territories, just like England), was tortured and executed for defending his religious liberty and for not giving up his Christianity when his ceasar, Diocleciano, told him to follow and to seek after the Christians of the empire. After that the legend of San Jorge and the Dragon came up. The legend tells that San Jorge went to a dragon, who demanded human sacrifices in exchange for water of a well, and killed it. He actually confronted the dragon after he heard that the next sacrifice would be a princess. With this legend a new kind of literature was introduced: the one of swords, dragons and witchery. In Cataluña they remember San Jorge (San Jordi there) giving a red rose, which is the symbol of love and passion, with the book that is always accompanying it to the loved ones.

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