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Favorite Traditions to Celebrate St. George's Day
The Patron Saint of England is St. George and his national holiday is celebrated on April 23rd of every year. However, while researching Favorite Traditions to Celebrate St. George’s Day I was surprised to learn that although this is England’s national holiday it is not a public holiday. This means that schools, businesses, post offices, public transportation, and other organizations are open as usual.
At first I thought this was a little unusual, but then recalled that there are several holidays in the U.S. that are celebrated by government offices, banks, schools, and etc. that will not be official holidays for the general public that work for the private sector. So with that said, let’s began to learn more about Saint George.
Who was Saint George?
Saint George’s characteristics caused him to be called, “Victory Bringer” and “The Quick to Hear,” needless to say, he was known for his defense of all in need. It is written that he was born during the Fourth Century and died perhaps what can be viewed as a martyr’s death of execution by decapitation in Lydda, Palestine. This patron of saint's journey began as a noble-born soldier that had high ranks within the Roman army that got thrown into prison for disagreeing with the Emperor’s persecution of Christians.
Despite being tortured he refused to change his beliefs and was beheaded on April 23, 303 A.D. It was during the Battle of Antioch in 1098 that he was adopted as the Patron Saint of the soldiers after his spirit appeared to the crusading armies. Richard “The Lionheart” put his army under Saint George’s protection in 1191 and St. George’s Day was officially acknowledged as Patron Saint of England by the End of the Fourteenth Century. In addition to soldiers, Saint George is also patron saint of scouts, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis.
Dragon, Flag, and Emblem
And then there is the legend of St. George fighting on behalf of a village being terrorized and the princess held captive by the wicked dragon. As with any legend there are several versions of the legend of St. George and the Dragon. However, it is written that Saint George slays the dragon and the spot where the dragon’s blood fell grew a rose as a symbol of love and friendship. Many see the slaying of the dragon as a symbol of victory of goodness over evil.
Saint George’s banner or flag is a red cross on a white background. The Pope during the first Crusade decided that the knights of different nationalities should be assigned different colors of the cross. The French knights were given the red cross on a white background, however the English knights objected because they considered this to be their St. George’s flag. In 1188 King Philip II of France ruled that the two flags would be exchanged. This flag was carried as a banner from 1277 during Edward’s 1 war to capture Welsh territory. Was flown from the masts of ships at the siege of Harfleur in 1415 and Henry V used it in the Battle of Agincourt.
Local dioceses acting on behalf of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting can award the St. George Emblem to members of the laity and clergy. The St. George Emblem is used to give recognition to the recipients of outstanding contribution to the spiritual development of the Catholic youth in the Boy Scouts of America.
More about St. George
- St. George - England\'s Patron Saint
British history records that St. George is the patron saint of England, believed to be born of noble birth, and among the most famous of Christian figures...
- The Legend that is Saint George
Most will agree that there is nothing written about St. George's life. However, there are several version on the legendary story of him slaying the dragon...
St George's Day Parade
Traditions to Celebrate
Now that you’ve been introduced to Saint George and his
legend, I’m now going to share with you some of the Favorite Traditions to Celebrate
St. George’s Day. I think it is
important that you know that not only is St. George the patron saint to
England, but also of, Aragon, Catalonia, England, Ethiopia, Georgia,Greece,
Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of
Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana,
Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow. My findings revealed that each celebrate St. George in their own unique way.
One tradition of those that do celebrate the occasion in England is a red rose (the national flower) worn in the button hole. I found it interesting that several articles stated that in England only 1 in 5 people know that St George’s Day falls on April 23rd and that many view it as just another ordinary date of working. Mandy Barrow writes, “You are more likely to see big St Patrick Day parades in England than you would see signs of St George’s Day being celebrated.” This information helped me to understand why there were so many individual videos like this one that is full of passion, yet lacking the sparkle of costumes that one usually sees in a parade. It’s as though these people are attempting to express enough passion for those that don’t get the true meaning of this special day. I'm guessing since this has not been declared as an official holiday that these people are basically on their own creating their own parades and probably either taking a vacation day from work or off without pay. Regardless, there are celebrations throughout England that one can attend…
St. George’s Day Festivities in London
This year in London however, it seems that there will be more of a celebration. The Mayor of London is providing a free, family-friendly St George's Day Concert in Trafalgar Square. Before the concert you could spend time at the National Gallery, that is hosting a free lunchtime talk on Tinoretto’s Saint George and the Dragon painting, and then partake of a special St George's Day menu in its National Dining Rooms.
Since Shakespeare's Birthday coincides with St George's Day you also can go and visit the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. And at the Music Hall at the Leicester Square Theatre there will be dancing, sing-a-long choruses, along with free St George flags to participate in the celebration.
Other Ways of Celebrating St George’s Day
I found one website that offered nearly 50 ideas of what local councils could do to organize a Saint George celebration. Of course some ideas would require money and require prior arrangements like hiring professional Morris Dancers or perhaps someone can organize, teach, and provide amateur dancers for this festive day. St George is usually mentioned in the Mummers Plays during Christmas time; however the website suggested that these plays be performed for St. George’s Day as well. It even provides two plays one might consider performing; the website is titled How to organize a St. George celebration.
Many in England choose to celebrate by getting family and friends together for a traditional English meal. Eating national dishes like Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Beef Wellington, Beef Stew and Dumplings, Cornish crab cakes, Ham hock, Fish N Chips, or a Shepherd’s Pie to name a few.
Today, the social media can be a way for individuals to interact and share ideas with others that celebrate St George’s Day this link on Facebook can be a good place to start. Or you might prefer time alone to laugh and enjoy the website dedicated to St George’s Day Poems.
More Articles of Interest:
- Why we should celebrate St George\'s Day - Telegraph
St Georges Day should be the beginning of a rebellion against a teaching of history that reduces our past to a mere aperitif to modern times, argues Richard Chartres.
- Celebrate St George\'s Day at Wrest Park: English Heritage Property Hosts Annual Dragon Slaying Even
Wrest Park in Bedfordshire hosts the largest St. George's Day Festival in England, with activities and entertainment for the whole family.
The way some would like to celebrate St. George's Day
St George's Day Poll
Do you celebrate St. George's Day?
I hope you have found the information that I’ve provided to be useful. I will admit it has been difficult to find many straight forward traditions for St. George’s Day, unlike other Patron of Saint Celebrations this one has left me a little confused. I finally grasped that some English for whatever reason choose not to celebrate or even know the history of St George. While others are passionate and feel strongly that St. George’s Day is heritage and should be an official national holiday.
So rather than try to form an opinion on a subject that I don’t have enough information to place judgment on an English culture; I’m going to close by inviting anyone from England that participates and or chooses not to participate in this unofficial holiday to leave comments expressing what your plans are for St. George’s Day? And other comments are welcomed as well.
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