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How to celebrate Sant Jordi Day under lockdown

How to celebrate Sant Jordi Day under lockdown

Over the last few days and because of how the virus has rocked our existence by confining and isolating us, it has been clearer than ever, that we are a sociable species. We miss other people and we miss being out in the streets with others.

Technology is helping us getting close to each other. In times of COVID-19 videocalls have become a reality for many more people, not only for the so-called Z generation, millennials or the few techy baby boomers.

However, after we hang up, we still crave for going to places. How can we satisfy our cravings for going out, for venturing into new landscapes that open the door to discovering new cultures? Literature, cinema and other cultural activities become indispensable to fill this void. This pause to our reality represents an opportunity to recognize the key role played by culture in stimulating our imagination.

The book industry has also suffered the consequences of the pandemic; the Book Guild and the Florists Association decided to postpone the celebration of Saint George’s day (internationally known as World Book Day). Despite this decision we still want to celebrate this special day, which is an important part of our intangible cultural heritage and that is why we would like to suggest some ways to celebrate this day from home.

Every year, thousands of us fill the streets to celebrate the day; in recent years the iconic Casa Batlló has decorated its façade with rose inspired ornaments, which has become part of the celebration too. This year, we are encouraged to decorate our façades through this campaign #TotsFemSantJordi. If we want to give a rose as a gift to our loved ones we can still do so by giving them a virtual rose thanks to #capsantjordisenserosa; by doing so, you will also contribute to raise funds for Hospital Clínic in Barcelona.

Now the rose issue is sorted we can start thinking of the book issue. Comanegra publishers have created an online “street” book stallwhich allows customers to purchase a book and donate part of such purchase to a bookshop of their choice. There are many more options to engage in reading, for instance, the network of bookshops Libelista together with the independent publishers’ network “Reading in Catalan”, have launched the campaign #ObrimFinestres, which gives readers the chance to buy books now and collect them when the lockdown is over. A similar initiative has also been launched at #LlibreriesObertes, which offers customers the chance to buy a book token gift direct from a chosen bookshop so the person receiving the token can personally collect it when it is allowed to do so. Last but not least, though this year we will not find street book stalls, some bookshops are still open for business online.

We also have many options to read whilst at home; many publishers and institutions have made part of their catalogues and collections available to the public. This is the case of Contes per al confinament (stories for the lockdown) by Males Herbes publishers, works at Errata NaturaeandTeatre Nacional de Catalunya, that has given access to more than 60 titles published by Arola Editors.

We can make the most of these days by exploring literature-based heritage, since several institutions have launched initiatives to make their content accessible online. The American Writers Museumis offering much content online, for instance, multimedia content from the exhibition My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, which is devoted to writers who arrived to the US and built their careers there. Also, The Rosenbach Museum has made available the content of some of their exhibitions through Gallery Gateways. Another very interesting literary based attraction is the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) which in collaboration with the children’s author Sarah Webb is publishing activities to encourage literary creativity for children, on a daily basis.

Not far away, Espais Escrits encourages readers to explore our local Catalan Literature literary landscape using a literary map, the Mapa Literari Català; this already known resource is continuously expanding and incorporating further content related to key figures of Catalan literature.

These are some of the many initiatives that have seen the light because of the pandemic and thanks to the hard work by publishers, bookshops and heritage facilities. Many more activities continue to appear every day showing the strength and tenacity of the literary sector as well as the importance of Saint George’s Day/World Book Day for the Catalan cultural landscape. We will still have to wait a few months to browse books in street book stalls but we can still make April World Book Month once again. 

Sant Jordi literatura rosa Sant Jordi cultura patrimoni TURCiT Grup de recerca en Turisme Cultura i Territori