St. George’s Day is coming up this Friday, April 23. I first heard of this holiday several years ago, at a used bookstore where I worked at the time. One of our regular customers came in with roses for all of the ladies working in the store, explaining that in Spain it’s a tradition to celebrate St. George’s Day by giving gifts of roses to women and books to men (although I think that personally, I’d be just as pleased with a gift of a book!) Any holiday that celebrates with books and roses is okay by me.
The aspect of giving books on April 23 is a way of commemorating two giants of literature who died on this day in 1616, William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.* And incidentally, the library has loads of materials by and about both authors– look here, or here, to see our selection. (History lovers might also be aware that although technically Cervantes and Shakespeare share the same date of death, because of the difference in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, Cervantes actually died ten days earlier than Shakespeare.)
After hearing about this St. George’s Day tradition, I started keeping an eye out for a few of my favorite books when at used bookstores or book sales, so that I would have gifts to give to people on April 23. What about you? Any favorite books that you’d like to give to someone this St. George’s Day, or a favorite holiday with unique traditions?
*UNESCO was as besotted with the idea of celebrating St. George’s Day as I am, and promote April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.