I remember the first time I participated in World Storytelling Day. It was a true celebration of live stories told to eager listeners. And I was proud to be a part of it as a young storyteller.
World Storytelling Day is a worldwide celebration of Oral Storytelling. It is celebrated each year on March 20, but activities are also planned on the days around it. The goal is to celebrate the art of storytelling with as many people as possible, both listeners and storytellers.
How did World Storytelling Day start?
It all started without much coordination and without the worldwide vision that exists nowadays. Seeds were sown in the ’90s in Sweden, Australia, Mexico, and various countries in Latin America.
The actual start of World Storytelling Day as a worldwide phenomenon can be traced back to Scandinavia. Starting in 2001 in Sweden, it spread in 2002 to the other Scandinavian countries. And like stories, the storytelling day traveled: to Canada (2003), to France (2004), to 25 countries worldwide (2005).
Since then, it has continued to grow, and nowadays, World Storytelling Day is celebrated worldwide.
💡 With the growth of social media, there also grew an ‘official’ hashtag: #WorldStorytellingDay
What is the theme of World Storytelling Day 2024?
Each year, World Storytelling Day has a theme around which the storytellers tell their stories. The storytellers are free to choose their stories, but most try to connect to the theme.
The theme of World Storytelling Day 2024 is Building Bridges. There is a lot of conflict and division in the world, and reaching out and communicating can help to heal the divides. Storytellers worldwide will tell stories on March 20, 2024, on this theme.
What was the theme of World Storytelling Day 2023?
The theme of World Storytelling Day 2023 was “Together We Can.” Considering worldwide events, storytellers felt the need in society to come together and move forward together. Building community, inspiring change. Storytellers worldwide told stories on March 20, 2023, on this theme.
There have been many different themes in the past years. Some of my favorites were Water (2011), Monsters and Dragons (2014), and Wise Fools (2018). You can find all the themes of the past on this Wikipedia page.
Who decides the theme of World Storytelling Day?
There is not one organization that decides the theme. The storytellers most active in World Storytelling Day find each other mainly in the official Facebook group. Each year, themes are proposed, votes are cast, and in the end, a theme is embraced by all.
Which day is World Storytelling Day?
World Storytelling Day is always on March 20. In 2024, March 20 is a Wednesday.
7 Inspiring Activities for World Storytelling Day
There is so much you can do. Maybe one of the little stories below will inspire you.
1. Surprise a School
A little van drives up to a primary school. Doors open, and a bunch of happy, colorful people jump out of the van. As they walk up to the primary school, the principal comes out to meet them.
“Welcome Storytellers! I have only told the teachers today to expect a surprise, nothing more!”
The storytellers spread out through the building, each one entering a classroom. Surprise. They tell stories, and after 20 minutes, they leave with their applause. To another classroom, and if needed, another.
Soon the storytellers have visited each classroom. Then, after a bit of break, they jump back into the van and drive off to another primary school.
And the children? They will not easily forget the power of storytelling.
2. Organize an Event with Your Library
“Of course,” said the librarian, “we are the perfect place for stories. After all, our books contain millions of stories! Be welcome! I will personally invite people in the coming weeks.”
And so, on the evening of March 20, the library stayed open. The lights were dimmed, adults trickled in. On the 2nd floor, two storytellers told their stories between walls of books.
Some days later, one of the storytellers got a call.
“We have had so many great reactions to the evening of stories you held. Could you do this once more in a couple of weeks?”
3. Tell the Story of a Local Landmark
The hill had always been there. With the two boulders on top, the big one and the little one. Everybody knew Boulder Hill, but not many people knew the story of the two boulders.
The storyteller was lucky. The sun shone, there was no rain, and the city parks filled up. Around and on Boulder Hill, people sat down to picnic, drink a glass of wine, and relax.
And so when he announced that he would tell the story of the boulders on Boulder Hill, quite a lot of people moved in a little closer.
4. Do a Story Walk
The group of storytellers met regularly, and it was a no-brainer that they needed to make a plan for March 20.
They found it difficult to find a space inside to do their storytelling event. Suddenly one of them said: “Why don’t we organize a walk outside?”
They got to work, decided on the length of the walk, and found spots where it was pleasant to tell and pleasant to listen. Stories were practiced, and an order was decided. Now only what was left was letting the people know!
5. Combine Storytelling with Other Arts
Why not celebrate the connections of stories and storytelling with other arts? With music, with dance, with painting, with sand sculptures?
Imagine telling a story together with a dancer! Fragments of story and fragments of dance come together to make something bigger.
And what do you think about telling a story in a museum? A real story, that can hold its ground. Afterward, you walk to another room and all can look at the painting that inspired this story. It adds more depth to the story. And the painting will never look the same again.
6. Team Up with a Restaurant
Italian food, Italian music, and Italian stories.
Three evenings the Italian restaurant was filled to the brim. The meal was great, and the music was great, but what made these three evenings unique were the stories.
Between the courses, a storyteller got up and told a tasty Italian story. Something from Italo Calvino, something from their family, something about the dish they were about to eat.
As each year had a different theme and different stories, people returned again and again.
7. Share Stories in a Senior Home
They got together in the big room. Some nice music in the background, some coffee, and some cakes.
The storyteller looked at the elderly people that came in. So many stories.
He started by thanking them for coming and telling about how stories call forth stories. He was there to tell, but also to listen.
When he had finished telling his first story, a white-haired man with a raspy voice started speaking.
A story had called forth a story. And after that, many, many more.
- World Storytelling Day on Wikipedia
- The Official World Storytelling Day Facebook group
- How to Tell Your First Fairy Tale
- 34 Helpful Storytelling Tips
- How to Tell a Story Online on Zoom
Photo credits: Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay