by Ellen Yule
Celebration of Sant Jordi's Day (St George’s Day) – Catalan Day of Love, Books & Roses starts in Auckland, New Zealand on 23 April 2014. (NZ is the world's first country to see the new light every day.)
The local residents and visitors from Catalonia, Spain, Italy, UK, Ireland, Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Serbia and Iran enjoy the celebration of ''a Rose for Love and a Book Forever'' at Takapuna Library in North Shore, Auckland. It brings the Catalan, Kiwi and a wider community together to read, to talk, to present books and roses, and to share love.
La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day, 23 April) is like Valentine's Day for the Catalan people in Spain. The main event is the exchange of books and roses between lovers, loved ones and colleagues. Normally, men give women roses, and women give men books to celebrate the occasion - "a rose for love and a book forever."
Legend has it that Saint George, Patron Saint of Catalonia and international knight-errant, slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful Catalan princess. From the dragon's blood sprouted a rosebush, from which the hero plucked the prettiest rose for the princess. Hence the traditional Rose Festival celebrated in Barcelona since the Middle Ages to honor chivalry and love.
In 1923, this lover's "festa" became even more poetic when it merged with "el dia del llibre", or The Day of the Book, to mark the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, the two giants of literary history, on 23 April 1616.
In 1995, this tradition inspired the UNESCO to adopt 23 April as World Book Day.
The exhibition is supported by GOVERNMENT of CATALONIA (DEPARTAMENT DE CULTURA I MITJANS DE COMUNICACIÓ), proudly presented by 2WAYS New Zealand Education and Travel Specialists for the Catalan, Spanish and Chinese.
" On behalf of everyone at Takapuna Library thank you so much for taking the time to come and bring a taste of Catalan culture to our staff and customers, it brought a lot of interest, colour and conversation to the Library. You brightened everyone's day! " - Kathy (librarian)
The first celebration of its kind in New Zealand was organised by 2WAYS at the Christchurch central library in 2010.
If you’re interested in a higher level of cultural exchange, you can apply for the 2WAYS Homestay Programme or 2WAYS Internship Programme.