Galician Literature Day

Galician Literature Day

Galician Literature Day (Día das Letras Galegas)

Galician Literature Day (Día das Letras Galegas) is a public holiday in Galicia, Spain. It is a celebration of Galician language and literature, and was inaugurated by the Royal Galician Academy (Real Academia Galega) in 1963. Since then, this celebration has taken place every May 17th to commemorate the centenary of Cantares Gallegos, the first work written in the Galician language by Rosalía de Castro (1837–1885), who later became one of the most important poets in the history of Galicia.

Each Galician Literature Day has been dedicated to a different writer in the Galician language. Only writers who have been dead for at least ten years are eligible, and the choice is made by the Royal Galician Academy.

Galician Literature Day

Galician Language

Galician is a Romance language (its origins come from Latin) spoken by about 3 million people in Galicia in northwestern Spain. Although it’s most closely related to Portuguese—which is spoken south of the border—it shares many similarities with Spanish, including sound and spelling.

The question of whether Galician and Portuguese are separate languages, or are dialects of the same language, has been debated for decades. This question has political and cultural implications, reflecting the competing views of some who see Galician as more influenced by Portuguese, and others who see a greater influence from Spanish.

Galician language still retains some traces of the former inhabitants of Galicia: those of pre-indo european origin, and the celts. Therefore we can find in contemporanean Galician words like "amorodo", "lastra" "veiga", etc. and celtic words such as berce, bugallo, croio, etc., which all originate from Latin.

If you’d like to get an ear for the language, listen to this video in Galician:

If you’d like further information about the Galician language, you can visit:

Royal Galician Academy (Real Academia Gallega)

Royal Galician Academy is an institution dedicated to the study of Galician culture and especially the Galician language.  It promotes norms of grammar, spelling and vocabulary, and works to spread the language. The Academy is based in La Coruña. The current president (May, 2020) is Víctor Freixanes.

In 1905, the Galician language was persecuted in Spain. To avoid persecution, the “Sociedade Protectora da Academia Gallega” (The Protective Society of the Galician Academy) was founded in La Habana (Cuba) due to the diplomatic relations established between both countries since 1902. Between 1902 and 1928, Cuba received more than 1 million Spanish immigrants.

Then on September 30, 1906, thanks to the efforts of writers Manuel Curros Enríquez and Xosé Fontenla Leal, it was reestablished as the Real Academia Galega. 

Manuel Murguía was its first president. In 1972, the academy standardized the design of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Galicia. 

Galician Literature Day


For further information about Royal Galican Academy, you can visit:

List of authors honoured on Galician Literature Day

These are the authors who have been honored on Galician Literature Day:

1963 Rosalía de Castro

1964 Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao

1965 Eduardo Pondal

1966 Francisco Añón Paz

1967 Manuel Curros Enríquez

1968 Florentino López Cuevillas

1969 Antonio Noriega Varela

1970 Marcial Valladares Núñez

1971 Gonzalo López Abente

1972 Valentín Lamas Carvajal

1973 Manuel Lago González

1974 Johán Vicente Viqueira

1975 Xoán Manuel Pintos Villar

1976 Ramón Cabanillas

1977 Antón Vilar Ponte

1978 Antonio López Ferreiro

1979 Manuel Antonio

1980 Afonso X o Sabio

1981 Vicente Risco

1982 Luís Amado Carballo

1983 Manuel Leiras Pulpeiro

1984 Armando Cotarelo Valledor

1985 Antón Lousada Diéguez

1986 Aquilino Iglesia Alvariño

1987 Francisca Herrera Garrido

1988 Ramón Otero Pedrayo

1989 Celso Emilio Ferreiro

1990 Luís Pimentel

1991 Álvaro Cunqueiro

1992 Fermín Bouza-Brey

1993 Eduardo Blanco Amor

1994 Luis Seoane

1995 Rafael Dieste

1996 Xesús Ferro Couselo

1997 Ánxel Fole

1998 Martín Codax, Xohán de Cangas and Mendinho;

together with the authors of the medieval songs (cantigas)

1999 Roberto Blanco Torres

2000 Manuel Murguía

2001 Eladio Rodríguez

2002 Frei Martín Sarmiento

2003 Antón Avilés de Taramancos

2004 Xaquín Lorenzo

2005 Lorenzo Varela

2006 Manuel Lugrís Freire

2007 María Mariño Carou

2008 Xosé María Álvarez Blázquez

2009 Ramón Piñeiro López

2010 Uxío Novoneyra

2011 Lois Pereiro

2012 Valentín Paz-Andrade

2013 Roberto Vidal Bolaño

2014 Xosé María Díaz Castro

2015 Xosé Filgueira Valverde

2016 Manuel María

2017 Carlos Casares

2018 María Victoria Moreno

2019 Antón Fraguas

2020 Ricardo Carballo

Ricardo Carballo: 2020 Award

Ricardo Carballo Calero was born in Ferrol in 1910 and passed away in Santiago de Compostela in 1990. He was a renowned Spanish philologist, academic and writer. He was the first Professor of Galician Language and Literature at the University of Santiago de Compostela, and a member of the Royal Galician Academy, the Lisbon Academy of Sciences, and also an honorary member of the Galician Language Association. 

Through his university research on the Galician language, he became interested in etymology. This research, combined with his vast knowledge of the history of the Galician-Portuguese language, led him re-interpret Galician classics and to develop the theory of what would become contemporary "reintegracionism". This idea had been suggested in the past but never officially systematised. It proposed that Galician and Portuguese were not just the same language in the past, sharing a common origin, but in fact are still the same language even today.

With the end of Francoist Spain in 1977, Galicia became an autonomous community with Galician as its official language along with Spanish. It was then urgently required to establish a fixed standard form. As professor of Galician language and literature, Carballo was designated to lead the group of experts who would prepare the new norms for Galician. The first draft was produced in 1979 with the title “Normas ortográficas do idioma galego” ("Orthographic norms of the Galician language"), using Portuguese as the most suitable orthographic reference for spoken Galician, while allowing for a number of different solutions in case of doubt.

Not long thereafter, the norms were revoked without Carballo's consent by means of a special law (the Decreto Filgueira). Carballo Calero decided to retire from the position in 1980, and a new set of norms was passed in 1982 by the newly created Instituto Galego da Lingua ("Galician Institute for the Language") and the Royal Galician Academy, of which he was still a member. Carballo Calero also helped to create the Galician Association for the Language (1981) to counteract what he thought to be an attempt to "damage" the language.

He became an open critic of the new decisions on Galician language and even stated that the new norms and linguistic laws provoked a situation which "is anti-hygienic and goes against the economy". In 1984, he was awarded the Medalla Castelao – the greatest civil award in Galicia. Also, he was invited to join the Consello da Cultura Galega ("Council for the Galician Culture"), but declined the invitation.