Calvià Book Fair – Saint George
23rd April is International Book Day. This event is a worldwide celebration organised by UNESCO since 1995 with the aim of promoting reading, the publishing industry and the protection of intellectual property.
This date was chosen to represent Book Day as it is a symbolic day for world literature as it is when Cervantes and Shakespeare died in 1616, and it also coincides with the birth of other well-known authors.
Book Day in Spain
In Spain this celebration spread rapidly throughout the country, especially in the cities where universities are located, such as Barcelona, which then expanded throughout Catalonia until it became a symbolic date for the Autonomous Community.
The official name was replaced by the “Diada de Sant Jordi” (Saint George’s Day) as the festivity coincided with the day of the patron saint, Saint George. Over time, it became traditional for people to exchange roses and books on this date as a result of the legend of “Sant Jordi.”
The Legend of “Sant Jordi” (Saint George)
The mythical legend of Sant Jordi tells of a dragon that terrorised the inhabitants of the village of Montblanc. The beast had settled on the village outskirts and,due to hunger, was getting closer and closer to the wall. So the villagers decided to feed it with their livestock in order to keep it at bay. However, there came a time when they had no more animals and had to slaughter the inhabitants of the city.
The names of all of them were put into a pot, including the King and the princess, and each day an “innocent hand” decided who would die the next morning.
One evening the name of the princess came out. The young girl left the walls the next morning and headed for her destiny. But when the Dragon was about to eat her, a knight on a white horse appeared and slew the beast.
Legend has it that once the Dragon was dead, a rosebush grew from his pool of blood and Jordi, the knight, gave the princess a red rose.
Calvià Book Fair
Calvià usually celebrates the Book Fair on the Palmanova sea front (paseo), a place overlooking the sea where marquees full of books are set up and there is entertainment surrounding the fair.
Due to Covid-19, a virtual Book Day has been organised for the years 2020 and 2021, where participation is invited through a video game focused on the theme of Sant Jordi’s Day.