Catalan communities around the world celebrate St George’s Day

More and more people are celebrating St George’s Day, International Book Day since 1995, by giving books to one another · This year Catalan social and cultural centres have organized activities as far afield as Brussels, Washington, Berlin and Buenos Aires.

23 April is the national day of Catalonia. And not only because St George (or “Sant Jordi” in Catalan) is the patron saint of Catalonia but also because the saint’s day has come to represent Catalan language and culture. There is a long tradition in Catalonia of giving books and roses to loved-ones on 23 April. But St George’s Day is an increasingly international holiday. Inspired in part by the Catalan tradition, UNESCO declared 23 April International Book Day in 1995.

Catalan social and cultural organizations and Catalan public institutions abroad have contributed hugely to this phenomenon. Around the world events are held to promote Catalan culture as well as literature and culture in general.

The “Casals catalans” (or Catalan centres, list), the organizations set up abroad by Catalan exiles after the Spanish Civil War and during the Franco dictatorship, are among the most active proponents of this increasingly international tradition. Official institutions representing the Catalan Government, such as the Maison de la Catalogne in Paris and the Institut Ramon Llull, present in twelve countries, also play a major part.

2008 is also the year of Mercè Rodoreda, one of the greatest and most translated Catalan writers of all time. Rodoreda surely makes an excellent ambassador for Catalan culture across the globe.

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