Celebrating International Translation Day

Translation is what allows us to communicate across languages and cultures, so International Translation Day is an important date for the translation industry worldwide.

What is International Translation Day exactly?

According to the United Nations, “International Translation Day is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals, which plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to the development and strengthening world peace and security”.

What is the history behind International Translation Day? 

The holiday actually dates as far back as 1953, when September 30 was chosen to represent translation because it is also the feast of St. Jerome. St. Jerome was known for translating the Bible and is the patron saint of all translators. 

Who was St. Jerome? 

A priest from the north of Italy, St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin from the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, together with translating parts of the Hebrew Gospel into Greek. St. Jerome’s native tongue was Illyrian, but he studied Latin in School and was fluent in Greek and Hebrew. 

How is International Translation Day celebrated? 

One way in which the United Nations celebrates is through the St. Jerome Translation Contest. Started in 2005 by the UN’s English Translation Service, the contest celebrates multilingualism within the organization, and ‘’highlights the important roles of translators and other language professionals in multilateral diplomacy in general, and multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations in particular.’’

How can you celebrate International Translation Day? 

While it seems a bit strange to throw a party, here are some ideas to celebrate this day: 

  • Celebrate at your favourite bar or café and invite friends from all over the world. 
  • Encourage your guests to speak as many different languages as possible, with interactive games and trivia. 
  • Watch your favourite movie in another language.
  • Make it a goal to start learning a new language.
  • Listen to songs in different languages.

Celebrate the diversity in language that is on this planet, and truly take a moment to appreciate the hard work that translators and interpreters do in order to facilitate cultural communication across the world.

How will you be spending International Translation Day? We’d love to hear your ideas!