Posted in books, Events

Day of the Books Smugglers

Day of the Book Smugglers commemorates the birth of Lithuanian newspaper publisher Jurgis Bielinis on 16 March 1846 in Purviškiai, near Biržai. Bielinis graduated from a primary school in Riga in 1872. Bielinis was born during the Lithuanian press ban Between 1865-1904 when the Russian Empire banned all Lithuanian language publications printed in the Latin alphabet, in order to force Lithuanians to use the Cyrillic alphabet. Nevertheless there was an illicit smuggling of books printed in the Lithuanian Language and from 1873 Bielinis became one of the main organizers of book-smuggling during the Lithuanian press ban

He was also a publicist and contributor to the Lithuanian newspapers Aušra and Varpas and cooperated with Motiejus Valančius. Bielinis used the pseudonyms Bieliakas, and Jakulis, and is informally referred to as the King of Knygnešiai. It is estimated that during the thirty-one years when he was active, Bielinis and his organizations illegally brought about half of all Lithuanian books from East Prussia (Lithuania Minor) into the Lithuanian mainland during the entire press ban (1864–1904)

From 1890 he was actively sought by the authorities of the Russian Empire. Bielinis could not come home and had to hide. He escaped at least five times after being captured by gendarmes, despite a large monetary reward promised for his capture. This encouraged him to organize the book distribution even better. Bielinis became an ultimate professional book smuggler and the main organizer of the Lithuanian book distribution in northern Lithuania. He founded the Garšviai knygnešiai society, the largest book smuggling organization at the time. Bielinis developed a newspaper subscription system and delivered newspapers and magazines to the subscribers.His organization also delivered forbidden Latvian books to Latvia. For his active participation in underground book smuggling, Bielinis was nicknamed as knygnešių karalius (The King of the Book Carriers).

Bielinis also published his own newspaper Baltasis erelis (for this purpose he bought a printing press from Martynas Jankus) and wrote several brochures on the history of Lithuania. He was among the first who spoke openly about Independent Lithuania. Bielinis died January 18, 1918 in Katinai, near Panevėžys while walking by foot to attend the Vilnius Conference and He is buried in Suostas’ churchyard however his important contribution is commemorated and Bielinis’s birthday is celebrated in Lithuania as the Day of Knygnešys.


No Selfies Day takes place annually on 16 March. The first No Selfies Day, took place in 2015 and was started by the staffs of the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, at the suggestion of Khoi Ha, who said, “With all of the social media nowadays, we’re turning a lot of people into narcissists,” and warned that, once posted, the picture sharing quickly spreads beyond the control of their originators.


Black Press Day. Black Press Day was launched by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), originally the National Negro Publishers Association in 2015, The NNPA Was originally founded in 1940 when John H. Sengstacke of the Chicago Defender organized a Black publishers meeting; the organization was re-named in 1956, and now has over 200 African-American newspaper members in the U.S. and the Virgin Islands


Saint Urho’s Day takes place annually on 16 March St. Urho is the Patron Saint of Finnish Wine makers. The day was created in 1956 by Richard Mattson, a Minnesotan of Finnish descent, as a tongue-in-cheek response to St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. The “legend” of St. Urho has now been proclaimed in all 50 states, and there are St. Urho pubs in Finland. An alternate version claims that Dr. Sulo Havumaki, of Bemidji State College, is the true originator of the St. Urho legend. Havumaki states that According to legend St. Urho drove a plague of grasshoppers out of Finland, saving the Finnish wine crop becoming the Patron Saint of Finnish Vineyard Workers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.