ABOUT BOOKS & ROSES

A UNIQUE CELEBRATION OF LOVE AND LITERATURE

Books&Roses has been filling Shanghai with books and roses every April since 2005, recreating the “love for books, books for love” magic of that day. The 11th edition of Books&Roses in Shanghai will take place in different spots in the city from April 16th to the 23rd.

It is a festive, emotional celebration in which the whole community takes part. Dozens of Shanghai libraries, bookstores, schools and universities gather to promote literature in a festive and welcoming atmosphere. People celebrate Books&Roses by giving books and roses to their friends and beloved ones. Book markets, free roses at libraries, conferences, concerts and workshops will be part of the celebration.

This event has its origins in the international renowned “Sant Jordi” festival, the Day of Books and Roses in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, celebrated on 23rd April. Catalonia exported this centennial tradition of the book and the rose to the rest of the world when in 1995, UNESCO adopted this day as World Book Day. Nowadays, Books&Roses is celebrated in over 100 cities all over the world such as New York, San Francisco, Mexico City, Berlin, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Paris, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg. This year, on 23rd April we will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the deaths of William Shakespeare, Miquel de Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

April 23rd

The day that people from all around the world offer books and roses to their friends, family and beloved ones.

THE ORIGIN

A LOCAL TRADITION ON AN INTERNATIONAL SCALE

April 23rd is the day Catalonia’s romantic spirit and love of books come together. Locals and visitors celebrate Sant Jordi by giving books and roses to their beloved ones. In countless cities and towns there is a special set of streets lined with bookstalls and decorations as booksellers and florists prepare for their biggest day of the year. In Barcelona, the famous Rambla boulevard and many others are filled from top to bottom, and from morning until night, as lovers and friends look for the perfect read for their special someone, and later stroll arm-in-arm perusing the plethora of new books that are presented during the holiday, collecting signatures from their favorite authors, and buying roses from students who are fundraising end of the year school trips.

Of course, Sant Jordi is not just a single day, but the culmination of weeks of poetry and prose and even cooking and sports contests in schools all over Catalonia. Every bookstore in the land offers presentations of new writing in all genres by both Catalonia’s best loved and newest authors. On April 23rd itself, Catalonia’s radio and TV stations join the party with live readings, author interviews, and debates, bakeries share book and rose-themed delicacies, and the entire country is festooned with flags, books, and flowers. It’s a booklover’s paradise!

WHY BOOKS?

We’ll take any excuse to give each other books! People in Catalonia have been celebrating Sant Jordi on April 23 for around 600 years—since 1436, but it wasn’t until 1929 that Barcelona-based writer and publisher Vicent Clavel organized a local celebration to promote books and reading. He chose April 23 because it’s also the anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote) and William Shakespeare. In 1995, the celebration spread around the world when the UNESCO declared April 23 “World Book Day”.

AND ROSES?

Roses are just beautiful! Of course, that’s not the whole story. It all goes back to the legend of Sant Jordi and the Dragon, whose image you can see in statues and buildings all over Catalonia.

THE LEGEND

A KNIGHT, A PRINCESS & AN EVIL DRAGON

Children learn about Sant Jordi and its tradition of books and roses with the legend of Sant Jordi (Saint George).

A long time ago, in the ancient village of Montblanc, people lived in fear of an evil dragon. For years, the beast had been devouring people and attacking herds. As nobody could live in peace, the king thought of a solution to keep the dragon satisfied so villagers could go about their days. A person selected randomly would be sent to the dragon cave. Fate set that the first selected person was the princess. Villagers asked for clemency to the king, as she was a very much beloved princess. The king, loyal to his decision, still sent his daughter to the dragon’s cave. Suddenly, a knight riding a white horse arrived to the village. His name was Jordi and was determined to save the princess. The knight fought with great bravery and killed the fearsome beast, whose blood sprouted a rosebush. In gratitude, the king offered him the princess in marriage. However, the knight could not accept such an honor. After giving one of the dragon’s blood roses to the princess, Sant Jordi left with his white horse as suddenly as he had arrived.

A PROJECT BY

BR-CIC    BR-SHJA    BR-WBD

BR-E    BR-SL      BR-LB       BR-AB

IN COOPERATION WITH

Jiading Library, Changning Library, Xuhui Library, Qian Xuesen Library, Jing’an Library, Jing’an Culture Bureau, Jing’an Education Bureau, Minhang Education Bureau, Xuhui Education Bureau, Changning Culture Bureau, Jiading Culture Bureau