Sunday, April 23, 2006

St George's Day



Each country in the UK has its own ‘Patron Saint’ who in times of great peril is called upon to help save the country from its enemies. St David is the patron saint of Wales, St Andrew of Scotland and St Patrick of Ireland - St George being the patron saint of England.

But who was St. George, and what did he do to become England’s Patron Saint?
Very little is known about St. George’s life, but it is thought he was a high ranking officer in the Roman army who was killed in around AD 303.
It seems that the Emperor Diocletian had St. George tortured to make him deny his faith in Christ. However despite some of the most terrible torture even for that time, St George showed incredible courage and faith and was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine. His head was later taken to Rome where it was interred in the church dedicated to him.

Stories of his strength and courage soon spread throughout Europe. The best-known story about St. George is his fight with a dragon, but it is highly unlikely that he ever fought a dragon, and even more unlikely that he ever visited England, however his name was known there as early as the eighth-century.
In the Middle Ages the dragon was commonly used to represent the Devil. Unfortunately the many legends connected with St. George’s name are fictitious, and the slaying of the ‘Dragon’ was first credited to him in the twelfth-century.

St. George, so the story goes, killed a dragon on the flat topped Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire, and it is said that no grass grows where the dragon’s blood trickled down!

It was probably the 12th century Crusaders however who first invoked his name as an aid in battle.
King Edward III made him the Patron Saint of England when he formed the Order of the Garter in St. George's name in 1350, and the cult of the Saint was further advanced by King Henry V, at the battle of Agincourt in northern France.

Shakespeare made sure that nobody would forget St. George, and has King Henry V finishing his pre-battle speech with the famous phrase, ‘Cry God for Harry, England and St. George!’

King Henry himself, who was both warlike and devout, was thought by his followers to possess many of the saint’s characteristics.

The celebration of St George's Day is currently fairly low key in England and much more celebrated elsewhere. However, the
Royal Society of St George, St George's Day and other movements seem to be succeeding in their constant efforts to revive St. George's Day as the day on which to celebrate being English.

An interesting piece of trivia - Shakespeare was born on St. George’s Day. 1564, and if the story is to be believed, died on St. George’s Day, 1616.
An appropriate end perhaps for the man who helped to immortalise the Saint in English tradition.

Text from Culture UK

Even Google is getting in on the act!

Update: in repsonse to Barbara's good wishes.......St George's Day is *not* a recognised holiday - how 'bout that then?? But then - neither is Trafalgar Day - or Armistice's 'pick an historical event' time!



Jean-Luc Picard said...

Happy St Georges Day!

Some great information there for those who didn't know it.

Michele sent me here.

rashbre said...

Interesting - co-incidentally I did a St George Day post too. I will cross link to yours now I have found it! And Shakespeare added the extra bit to King Edward's cry, making cry "God, Harry, England and St George!". He seemed to have a way with words.


Star said...

Happy St. Georges Day. I hope this is translates into a good meal. or presents or some fun events for you. Michele sent me.


That's nice to know.

schaumi said...

Well, Happy St. George's day to you. My youngest has a book on St. George and the Dragon. ...and thanks for dropping by my blog.

Tara said...

Happy St George's Day blogsistah, and a Red Rose to you all in celebration. I guess I should do a post about this also, being British and all :-)

If I get round to it, I'll link you :)

Barbara said...

craziequeen - Today is the first I've heard of this holiday. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Dave said...

It's so low key it's invisible!

Fizzy said...

Well done for writing this post. When you look at how the other saints' days are celebrated we are not very patriotic. When I was little we would have special Church Parades where all the brownies, guides, cubs and scouts would parade thier troop flags in the church and around the local streets
Have a good Sunday

Crayonsetc said...

Hey, thanks for the history lesson. Love it!!! And even if it isn't a recognized holiday, it is an important day in England's history!!

Here via Michele!!

Claire said...

I'm yet to understand why St George's Day isn't a bigger deal...we celebrate St Patrick's day which just makes no sense at all?!?!?!

Here from Michele's Hi!

Nic said...

Love learning new things!

I visit from time to time Via Captain Picard's but here from Michele's today. :)

kimbofo said...

Hmmm...might explain all the St George flags I've seen flying in all the pubs yesterday! (I didn't go to the pub today)

> PS Michele sent me

Last Girl On Earth said...

I love ANY excuse for a celebration! Who's bringing the champagne? Hope you've been doing well, CQ. Been a while since I've been by.

WendyWings said...

My mother was born on St Andrews day so her middle name was Andrea lol.
BTW I wish you lived closer we could so do lunch ( check todays blog update lol)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Very interesting about St. George's Day....I never knew any of that...
Where does St. Crispen fit in? Is that right??? It sudden;y doesn't look right...Oh Well....Nevermind. (lol)

mar said...

Happy belated St George's Day! He is the patron of Catalonia too ("Jordi" in Catalan, Jorge in Spanish, big day over here but no holiday...

Shane said...

maybe they'll have "Conquering Iraq" day soon.

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