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Megan Johns

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St George's Day
by Megan Johns   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, April 26, 2010
Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010

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Yesterday was St George’s Day, supposedly a day for English nationals to celebrate. However, you might be forgiven for not noticing as most of us didn’t either.

England, although relatively small, is a disparate nation with quite marked regional differences and a legendary north south divide. Generally, it is not cohesive, people are more likely to identify with and feel proud of  their own regions rather than the country as a whole, unlike the Irish and the Welsh who are fiercely patriotic. There are attempts afoot to revive interest in the festival with the scheduling of various events, frequently with a medieval theme, including a concert in Trafalgar Square. That might be good for tourism, but it is debatable as to whether it stirs any deep-rooted sense of pride.

There are those who argue why the dragon-slaying St George was adopted, anyway, as he doubtlessly never graced our shores. But that misses the point as a saint was chosen as a patron by virtue of their deeds at a time when people thought saints had extraordinary powers and would be a protector. We share St George with countries as diverse as Aragon, Catalonia, China, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Palestine, Portugal and Russia. You could argue, therefore, that he is quite fitting for our multi-cultural society.  However, unfortunately, the banner of St George, the red cross of a martyr on a white background, whilst still the flag of England, has also been adopted politically by the BNP, a  minority, but militant group representing jingoism and prejudice rather than inclusivity. It has also become synonymous with football fans, sometimes rowdy and poorly behaved.

In England, a holiday in honour of St George on 23 April was first declared in 1222 and St George became the acknowledged Patron Saint of England by the end of the fourteenth century. It was subsequently elevated to a great feast day, like Christmas Day, but in 1778 it reverted to a simple day of devotion for English Catholics. Whether the day can be revived as a national holiday, as some politicians wish, and the flag restored as a symbol of which to be proud  is a moot point.

Megan Johns
The Path of Innocence





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