World Book and Copyright Day, promoted by UNESCO, celebrated its 25th anniversary on 23 April 2020. The Day was characterized by many initiatives in spite of the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 emergency. Among the events programmed were book readings, streaming marathons and activities aimed at relaunching a sector of society severely tested by the lockdown.
The first World Book Day was celebrated on 23 April 1995. The date was chosen by UNESCO to commemorate world-renowned authors Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, all of whom died on 23 April. World Book Day has its roots in Catalonia where, to celebrate the feast of St. George, patron saint of the region, it was a tradition for men to give a rose to their sweethearts, who would then return the gesture with the gift of a book. Thus it is no coincidence that, in tune with this custom, Catalan book sellers usually give a rose to each client who purchases a book.
This year, due to the measures in force to contain Covid-19, World Book Day was celebrated mainly online. Many initiatives were promoted to reach readers directly at home and to support the publishing industry, which has been hard hit by the closure of bookstores.
Organizers of the Day emphasized that the pleasure of reading a good book is a wealth to be rediscovered, all the more so in times of quarantine.
“Reading is more important than ever today,” says the slogan on the UNESCO website. “Read and you will never be alone.” Throughout the month of April, the website has been inviting the digital community to express their love for books on social networks through the hashtags #StayAtHome and #WorldBookDay.