The Welsh have St David, the Irish have St Patrick (17th March) and the English have St George! Our patron saint is to be remembered throughout the country on the day of his death. That day is April 23, also (for those with a keen interest in interesting facts to pull out at a boring dinner party), the birthday and death day of another British icon, William Shakespeare.
This is England’s national day. But who was the man behind the legend? St George was born in Turkey in about the year 280. From a humble soldier in the Roman army he eventually became a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. Sadly, his ending was brutal: he was executed for being a Christian and his grave can be found in Lod in Israel.
What St George is most widely known for is slaying a dragon. The story goes that the only source of water, a well, in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon who demanded a daily human sacrifice.
On the day that St George was visiting, it was the turn of a beautiful princess to be sacrificed. Having none of that nonsense, St George killed the dragon, saved the princess and in return, the people of Silene converted to Christianity.
Once upon a time, St George’s Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas after England united with Scotland in 1707, then enthusiasm for celebrating the day waned. Celebrations now tend to be local events rather than grand parades like those for St Patrick, with some exceptions such as London. London celebrates St George’s Day “with a day of free activities, food stalls, children’s games and more at the Mayor of London’s annual Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square.”
More provincially, there are events taking place from re-enactments of the slaying of the dragon to enjoying traditional fish and chips on the West Somerset Railway on a journey from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead on Thursday 23rd April 2015.
Pubs, club and restaurants will be serving up traditional English fayre to entice visitors to celebrate the national day, but a word of warning, as always; here at AC Services, we urge you to check out your Rational appliances and get them routinely maintained before embarking upon a large-scale celebratory eating fest!
Not only England
Finally, here are a few facts you might not know: St George is also the patron saint of Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Portugal and Russia. He is also remembered by the Gorani people who live in a mountainous area in the Balkans and were converted to Islam many centuries ago, but still observe St George’s Day.
And if you ever wondered by church services on the Sunday closest to April 23 include the hymn ‘Jerusalem’, the words describe a supposed visit by a youthful Jesus Christ to Glastonbury, England.
Oh, and St George’s cross was originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa, which was used in the crusades in the 1100s and 1200s by English knights!
So with a month to go there is still time to organise your local event to celebrate St George’s Day, the patron saint of many lands.