Bloomsday 2012 – Celebrations Around the World

By Laura Corrigan, Contributor. June 14, 2012

This Saturday, June 16th, people around the world will recognize Bloomsday, the annual celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The specific date of June 16th has two significant meanings: it was the day of Joyce’s first outing in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, the woman who would become his wife, and is also the date on which the events in Ulysses take place.

The first celebration of Bloomsday occurred on the 50th anniversary of the events in Joyce’s master work. John Ryan and Flann O’Brien created a pilgrimage of sorts in Dublin, where friends and family relived scenes throughout the city. Since 1954, Joyce’s Ulysses has inspired contributions of poetry, performances, music, and avant-garde collaborations throughout the world.

This year, Bloomsday takes place on a Saturday, and a weekend of events will take place around the world – both traditional celebrations and some with an ultra-modern twist. Finland will be honoring Joyce through discussions of the daring and delightful attempts to translate Joyce into Finnish. In Fuengirola, Spain, readings in a number of languages will take place as participants and onlookers bathe on the beach. At The James Joyce Center in Dublin, you can have your photo taken and dress up in costumes of the era. Special tours will also be given all across Joyce’s native city.

The Danish James Joyce Society will mark the 50th anniversary of celebrating Bloomsday in Denmark. Readings and translations will accompany lively accordion music as people celebrate Joyce at Josty, the restaurant where he drank a glass of milk during his visit to Denmark in 1936. Italians will celebrate at The Fiddlers’ Elbow, the first Irish pub in Florence, in coordination with the Institute of Florence. France has also developed Bloomsday customs. Michael Gradwell, Declan McCavana, and Jean O’Sullivan, a trio of Irish academics in Paris, will read eight excerpts from Ulysses intertwined with the alluring songs of Chantal de Barra and Jean O’Sullivan for the entertainment of local Joyceans.

This weekend will also embrace newer Bloomsday traditions. In New York, the Irish American Bar Association of New York will reenact the trial of 1921– in which the U.S. publishers of Ulysses were sentenced and fined $50 each. This popular event  set for June 15th at the Supreme Court revels in Joyce’s contribution to the principle of free speech.

For over 28 consecutive hours at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin, hundreds of writers will read in efforts to beat the world record for most authors reading Ulysses one after the other on Bloomsday.

In addition, thousands in British Colombia will join the start of the year long modernist versions project, “Year of Ulysses.” This event will announce a much-anticipated secret new contest, which involves Ulysses, and a key announcement about their digital publishing proposal for the upcoming year. Across the globe, Hong Kong will hold ten hour-long sessions of readings of Ulysses.

The legacy of James Joyce has inspired a wide array of events for this year’s Bloomsday, and this is just small sample. Joyceans from Brazil to New Zealand will be united as they are transported through the artistic embodiment of Joyce’s literary talent. Happy Bloomsday!

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