William Shakespeare’s 446th Birthday Celebrations
William Shakespeare’s 446th Birthday Celebrations Stratford-upon-Avon 24 April 2010
Birmingham Libraries are invited annually to take part as one of the honoured guests in the Visitor's Procession to celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday. It is fitting that Birmingham Shakespeare Collection, which is so important locally, nationally and internationally should be represented. Ambassadors and High Commisioners of the nations of the world also attend, many in national costume, along with eminent guests from the world of theatre and literature.
William Shakespeare was thought to have been born in Stratford upon Avon on 23rd April, three days prior to his baptism recorded at Holy Trinity Church in 1564. The 23rd April is also the date of his death in Stratford aged 52.
Shakespeare’s birthday was first celebrated on his birthday in 1824. However, it was David Garrick’s Shakespearean Festival of 1769 which first established the town as place of literary pilgrimage. Over the years the tradition has grown and this unique event has now been taking place annually for over a century.
International Visitors’ Procession
This procession, led by the President Miss Janet Suzman symbolises Shakespeare's journey from cradle to grave and each participant wears a sprig of Rosemary for ‘remembrance’. This is followed by the age-old ceremony of the unfurling the flags of the nations and Shakespeare organisations.
I felt honoured to represent Birmingham Libraries and to publicly and ceremoniously unfurl The Birmingham Shakespeare Library flag. Chris Hay
This ceremony is followed by the National Anthem and when the Procession finishes at the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, visitors lay flowers on Shakespeare’s grave. The scent is overwhelming as is the display of colour. The vast array of floral tributes creates a stunning testament to Shakespeare’s life and legacy. Afterwards there are speeches and toasts including one to The Immortal Memory of William Shakespeare and to The Theatre.
The day provide many opportunities to make contacts and describe Birmingham Shakespeare Library to interested people.
One of the high points of the afternoon was the reading of poetry by Mohammed Iqbal in Farsi, Urdu and English by renowned actor Zia Mohiyuddin Dagar.