Every 23 April, Catalonia celebrates its patron saint: Sant Jordi, or St George in English. This is a day focused on love, but also on culture. The country’s streets fill with people sharing books and roses, two universal symbols that more and more countries have adopted since UNESCO declared 23 April world book day. Books and Roses is an initiative of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) which for half a decade has been seeking to internationalise Sant Jordi and Catalan culture. Last year more than 159 events were registered over 111 cities in 39 different countries.
This year, Sant Jordi will be visiting such geographically and culturally distant cities as Sao Paulo, Bogota, Reykjavík, Chicago, Johannesburg and Melbourne. Germany will be the country hosting the largest number of events with twenty-four, followed by the United States with seventeen and France with ten.
The activities are voluntarily organised by Catalan communities living abroad, but also by bookshops and entities interested in culture and Catalonia. The Catalan government also takes part in the internationalisation with its delegations abroad and through the Institut Ramon Llull.
However, Books and Roses does not stop there, and the program goes beyond 23 April. This year it started on 6 April with a literary contest at the Casal Català in London, and will be finishing on 6 May in Cologne. The books and the roses take up a large part of the activities, but concerts will also be held to promote Catalan music. Joan Dausà will be performing in Buenos Aires (23 April) and Brussels (26 April) and Roger Mas will do so in Prague (27 April).
The Japanese capital, Tokyo, will be putting on one of the most complete events. In addition to enjoying the festivities of Sant Jordi, participants can taste Catalan gastronomy, hear a reading of the ‘Zoo d’en Pitus’ (in Catalan and Japanese) or ‘Tirant lo Blanc’, marvel at the modernist architecture and the figure of Puig i Cadafalch or attend a koto and cello concert.
Here you can check out the full program of Books and Roses
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