Happy World Book Day 2010!
This "holiday" is recognized by UNESCO as "World Book and Copyright Day," but let's face it... celebrating copyright is pretty boring (not to mention a far more complicated issue than can be represented in a holiday), while books are one of humanity's finest collective creations.
While this holiday is not well known in the US, it is more popular in Europe, especially in the Catalan Countries where it grew out of the festival of St. Jordi (or "George" as he is better known in English). In Spain, it is also the date of the awarding of the annual Cervantes Prize [Spanish] by the King of Spain; it is the most prestigious prize in the Spanish language.
I first encountered the festival in 2004, I spent a semester living in Spain and I had the great pleasure of being in Catalonia on April 23rd. I was charmed by the basic thrust of the holiday: people give each other a book or a flower. This is not just between parents and children or spouses, but between all sorts of people who respect each other: friends, teachers and students, colleagues, etc.
The day is also relevant in the wider book world as the birthdays of: Miguel Cervantes (author of Don Quixote), William Shakespeare (the Bard of the English Language) and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (early historian and chronicler of Latin America). UNESCO notes that "23 April is also
the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice
Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo."
UNESCO has declared the official theme of this year's festival as: "Translation" (you can read their formal statement here).
Today I hope to enjoy books by writing one and writing about others. I've been stalled in my writing process for several weeks now and, after a few days off, am jumping back into it. Do you celebrate World Book Day? If so, what do you plan to do?