Today marks St George’s Day and is England’s National Day in honor of St. George, the Patron Saint of England. His emblem was a red cross on a white background and is the flag of England. The emblem was adopted by Richard The Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century. St George was actually a Roman soldier who protested against the Romans' torture of Christians and eventually died for his beliefs. St George became popular in England around the time of the early Crusades when the Norman’s saw him in a vision and were victorious.
It’s not just England that celebrates St George’s Day as several other countries also join in, as Saint George is their patron saint, including Spain (Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia), Portugal, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia. Many cities also join in including Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia and Beirut in Lebanon. Palestinians celebrate the Feast of St. George and St. George's Day is a government holiday in Newfoundland, Canada.
OK, with the history part over, let’s celebrate! St George’s Day is certainly not celebrated with as much vigor as St Patrick’s Day (maybe that’s down to the typical English reserved nature?). The day is not a holiday in England although campaigners are lobbying hard to get this changed. So, immerse yourself in the English culture and join in with these celebrations which are being held over the next few days:
London – There is a free concert in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 25 April with contemporary music performed by the West Country singer and guitarist Seth Lakeman, Eliza Carthy and Jim Moray.
Salisbury – Head to the historic town of Salisbury and watch the street theatre, pageantry, dancing, wandering minstrels and fearsome dragons.
Silsoe, Bedfordshire - Wrest Park Gardens is holding a family event all weekend including a re-enactment of St George's fight with the dragon. There is also medieval falconry, a knight's tournament and jousting, a replica Roman encampment, three arenas of period entertainment and a historic market for the adults.
There are also many more local street parties and events happening all over England – let us know how you are celebrating!