National Book Day: why it is celebrated and what is the relationship with Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

International Book Fair (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

November 12 of each year is National Book Day, but why was this date chosen?

National Book Day was created by presidential decree on November 6, 1979 during the government of José López Portillo, who asserted that education in the country’s development process was a priority.

Since then it has been commemorated for the first time, a date that was also chosen to honor the birth of Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz, who was the greatest exponent of Mexican literature.

And 41 years later the reading From which it is sought to sow the idea that the book constitutes a great instrument of cultural transmission in the history of humanity and even today, in the digital age, that it is an indispensable tool for the educational development of any population.

For this reason, the Ministry of Public Education carries out and disseminates cultural activities to promote the habit of reading.

Who was Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz?

Young Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Young Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Although the exact date is not known with precision, the scholars of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz located her date of birth on November 12, 1651. Whoever would later become one of the best writers in Mexico saw the light in a town called San Miguel Nepantla, which is currently located in the territory of the State of Mexico, near the limits with the state of Morelos. His father was a Spanish military man and his mother an illiterate Creole.

Being very small Juana Inés de Ramírez de Asbaje, its real name, showed an unusual inclination towards letters. It is said that at the age of 3 he went to the bedroom of his older sister, María, to observe the private classes given to him by different teachers. Considered a child prodigy ever since, shortly after taking those classes learned to read and write.

At the age of 6 he knew what the University was, but despite your natural interest, Back then it was inconceivable that a woman could study. Demonstrating since then her strength of conviction, she asked her mother to cut her hair braids and dress her as a child to go unnoticed, but her plan did not finish convincing her.

This did not stop the young Sor Juana from inspecting her grandfather’s library in the Panoayan Estate. Legend has it that she alone took tests to evaluate what she had learned, and that she even gave herself punishments if she did not answer correctly.

Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz
Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz

In 1659 her family moved to Mexico City and in a matter of time she was named maid of honor of Leonor Carreto, wife of Viceroy Antonio Sebastián de Toledo. In the viceregal court he drew attention for his erudition and his strong inclination towards lyrical questions.

At the age of 15, then the right age to start seeing marriage issues, Sor Juana decided that she wanted to be a nun for two reasons: not to marry and, mainly, to be able to continue studying, even if it was within the walls of a convent. In 1667 he entered the convent of the Discalced Carmelites, but after four months, health problems forced her to abandon him.

Two years later he entered the Order of Saint Jerome, where he stayed the rest of his life. Rumors say that in his cell he had a library with more than 4,000 copies. During his adulthood he defended the right of women to education, despite the attempts of some bishops who wanted to distance her from intellectual grounds.

The poems he dedicated to the viceroy María Luisa Gonzaga Manrique, Countess of Paredes, reported a relationship between the two women that for some experts could be classified as “Loving”. However, Sor Juana knew very well the nature of desires, which when achieved lose their essence. Perhaps that is why he always limited himself to releasing his feelings only within the spheres of thought.

On April 17, 1695, at 3:00 a.m., the writer died of a disease of the time: typhus. It is said that while the evil began to undermine her, she invested her last efforts in helping her companions who had also contracted the disease.


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