St. George, San Jordi and International Book Day celebrated in Spain today

Madrid is preparing to celebrate International Book Day today with a series of events to promote reading and the purchase of books.

The event was first celebrated in Spain as the ‘Fiesta of Spanish Books’ in 1926 and it coincides with St. George’s day as April 23 is also the anniversary of the death of Manuel Cervantes, author of Don Quixote and perhaps the most famous of all Spanish writers, and William Shakespeare in 1616.

Over 200 bookshops in the capital will offer a 10 per cent discount on all books and will stay open later to participate in ‘Book Night’.

The event will provide a much needed boost to the sector, which has been hit by the economic crisis. Bookshops usually conduct between 5 and 8 per cent of their total sales for the year during the celebrations.

 

One of the most traditional events of the day is held in the Circle of Bellas  Artes, where Spanish celebrities will spend three days reading Cervantes’ Quixote. The opening words of the book are always read by the winner of the previous year’s Cervantes Prize for literature.

Madrid has the highest number of book readers in Spain, in fact 12 per cent above the national average. But Madrid is not the only city where International Book Day is celebrated.

Catalans celebrate the day along with ‘San Jordi’ by traditionally giving the gift of a book and a red rose. However, the decision by the government of Mariano Rajoy to increase sales tax on flowers from 8 per cent to 21 per cent might have an effect on this tradition.

In other major cities, such as Bilbao, book day is celebrated by a series of lectures and writing workshops. In Zaragoza a major book fair is organized in the Plaza de la Independencia, and in Soria, there will bea series of guided tours through the cities monuments which have appeared in novels.

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