British Holidays Explained: St George’s Day
St George’s Day aka England’s National Day. Though he wasn’t English and never visited, St George is the country’s patron saint…which makes total sense and his cross forms a central part of the Union Flag.
St George’s Day: The History
Who was St George? What did he do? What’s with the cross? Why is there a dragon? All these questions shall be answered. Read on!
St George was a Roman soldier, who bravely protested against the Roman’s treatment of Christians, and died (he was beheaded) for his beliefs.
He became popular in England around the time of the Crusades, when Norman soldiers swore that they saw him appear above the battlefield and helped them to victory! Depicted with a red crossed shield and a noble steed, St George will* appear when the country is in great peril, and smite the foes of England with his shining silver sword.
One of George’s most famous “adventures” is his fight with a dragon. It is unlikely that George actually fought a dragon, it was probably a lizard of some sort (or maybe even just a large horse) but commonly dragons represent the devil in folklore, which is presumably where this story originates.
The legend goes that George slew the dragon (horse) and rescued a beautiful princess. He kills the dragon by stabbing it through the underside, where there are no scales… which sounds oddly familiar.
*cough The Hobbit cough*
Today we celebrate St George in Britain on 23rd April, mainly with parades or a pint down the local pub and by wearing a rose in some way shape or form. Some people in the UK think the day should be a bigger deal than it is, whilst others couldn’t care less, and in fact think that we should have a different patron saint with closer ties to the country (someone who stepped foot in it, for a start).
But in the meantime we have good old St George and his fictional dragon, so you can feel safe that, if England is in danger, he’ll appear and, like, stop them with his shield or… stab them… thanks George.