On a round of Google distraction, where I keep following links that interest me, and I while away a couple fo hours, I discovered that in Lithuania they celebrate Book Smugglers Day. At first i thought this was something fun (along the lines of Speak Like a Pirate Day), but it turned out to be much more serious, rebellious, and amazing than anything so trivial. Here is a short explanation of what it is about.
Lithuanian book smugglers transported Lithuanian language books printed in the Latin alphabet into Lithuanian-speaking areas of the Russian Empire, defying a ban on such materials in force from 1864 to 1904. Opposing imperial Russian authorities’ efforts to replace the traditional Latin orthography with Cyrillic, and transporting printed matter from as far away as the United States to do so, the book smugglers became a symbol of Lithuanians’ resistance to Russification.
Book smugglers themselves, at first motivated by religious conviction and later by national pride and adventure, were the great heroes of this endeavor. The smugglers risked their freedom and their lives, carrying the materials across the heavily guarded German-Russian border. The determination to continue the smuggling went on through the years of the prohibition as new generations joined the struggle.
I can think of few nobler causes than risking everything to maintain your language and culture through smuggling books. Find out more here.