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La Rambla de Barcelona, Sant Jordi 2016 Wikipedia
Selling books at la Rambla de Barcelona. Sant Jordi, 2016. Source: Wikipedia

Barcelona prepares to celebrate Sant Jordi

On April 23, Catalonia celebrates the traditional Catalan festival that consists of giving a book and rose as a gift.

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On Saturday, April 23, the streets of Barcelona will be filled with stalls of roses and books. The  important date coincides with St. George's Day — Sant Jordi, patron saint of Catalonia — and according to tradition, men must give a red rose to their beloved, and women give them a book.

Leaving aside the feminist debate that awakens in this exchange of gifts (books for him, flowers for her), the reality is that the tradition of Sant Jordi has become increasingly popular over the years. It's to the point that it is the day of the year when the most books are sold in Catalonia and the rest of Spain. 

Booksellers and publishers are expecting a historic Sant Jordi this year with sales similar to those before the pandemic. Barcelona will have 300 stalls selling and signing books, a record that is expected to reach 22 million euros ($22.7 million). 
 
Taking advantage of the popularization of Sant Jordi's Day, and that April 23 coincides with the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso, UNESCO proclaimed April 23 as World Book Day in 1995.  
 
In the coming days, bookstores around the world will try to take advantage of the date to promote reading and selling books. 
 
In Spain, World Book Day also coincides with the Cervantes Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the Spanish language, which will be awarded to Uruguayan writer Cristina Peri Rossi in 2022. Peri Rossi has lived in Barcelona since the 1970s. The award ceremony was moved forward to Friday, April 22, as April 23 falls on a Saturday, and will be presided over by King Felipe VI.

Saint Jordi in the U.S.?

In the United States, World Book Day is not as popular as in the United Kingdom or Barcelona. However, those who want to enjoy their own special Saint Jordi Day this Saturday can travel to the Jersey City Theater Center, on the outskirts of New York. 

Under the slogan "Sant Jordi in the U.S.," book presentations, exhibitions, performances and debates are some of the events already announced, most of which have a Catalan touch, but also cover literature in translation and Brazilian writing.

This is the first time the New Jersey venue has hosted the festival, but the 'Sant Jordi in the U.S.' initiative has been running for several years.
 
The program of events is scheduled to last throughout the week of April 18-24. 

The full schedule of the event is here.

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