St. George's Day in United
Day in the United Kingdom remembers St George, England's patron saint. The
anniversary of his death, which is on April 23, is seen as England's national
day. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon
and saved a princess.
According to legend, St George slayed a dragon. Many Christians observe St
George's Day in the UK, although it is not a public holiday.
What do people do?
St George's Day is not
widely celebrated in England and many people do not even know the date on which
it is marked. Flags with the image of St George's cross are flown on some
buildings, especially pubs, and a few people wear a red rose on their lapel.
Church services on the Sunday closest to April 23 often include the hymn
'Jerusalem', written by the poet William Blake. The words describe a supposed
visit to Glastonbury, England, by Jesus Christ during his youth.
April 23 is not a public
holiday. Schools, stores, post offices, businesses and other organizations are
open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual timetables.
St George was born sometime
around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose up through
the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the
Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and
is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.
St George is most widely
known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of
Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the
town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person
to be sacrificed was chosen by lots.
On the day
that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed.
However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene
access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought
that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the
sacrifice of human beings.
St George is the patron
saint of a number of places, such as Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Georgia,
Greece, Portugal and Russia. He is also remembered in some regional holidays,
such as in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and among 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. Around the world, a number of
days are devoted to St George, including April 23 and dates in November and
December of the Gregorian calendar.
The most widely recognized
symbol of St George's Day is St George's cross. This is a red cross on a white
background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England's
national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saint George's cross was
originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa. Around 1190, the King of
England started paying the Doge of Genoa to protect ships originally from the
city of London and the rest of England that sailed in the Mediterranean.
During the crusades in the
1100s and 1200s, English knights used St George's cross as part of their
uniform. It has been the official flag of England for centuries, but the Union
Flag, a combination of St George's cross, St Andrew's cross and St Patrick's
cross, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. Now Saint George's cross is
used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football, rugby and
cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross
are worn and people paint it on their faces. It is also has a prominent place on
the arms of the City of London and the flags of the city of Barcelona, Spain,
and the country of Georgia.