St George's Day

Although I have always lived in England I am apathetic about England's Patron saint St George. The nearest I've got to celebrating St George's Day today is to officiate at a funeral in an English church with a St George flag flying from the tower as is customary. I didn't mention St George and with the amount of rain falling hardly anyone would have noticed the flag either.

The first time I joined in a patron saint celebration on 23rd April was as a child in the Brownies, marching to St Nicholas church with all the local Scouts and Guides for an afternoon St George's Day parade service. I am astonished to remember that this took the form of Evensong from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. As my family were Presbyterian I was completely lost in the service. Another Brownie helped me find the start page number which was fine until we switched to the Psalm in a completely different part of the book. I expect the Vicar spoke to us about St George, but all I remember is not knowing the chant tunes and feeling silly. 

Back to St George - who is patron saint of a huge list of countries in Europe and the Middle East. He wasn't English, never had any connections to England, probably existed but most of the legends about him are highly fanciful. He was probably a Palestinian and a Roman soldier who died in Turkey. The dragon slaying legend may have come from something he did in Libya. The red cross on a white background associated with him and the English flag has become a bit of an embarrasment, firstly because of its association with the medieval Crusades and more recently with racist organisations and sentiments in England.

As I wrote in Aidan gets my vote, I'd much rather have someone like St Aidan as England's patron saint, but I suppose we're stuck with St George. I've never really understood about patron saints anyway. Perhaps I am too Protestant.

I'd much rather today celebrate the International Day of the Book, declared by UNESCO because today is the anniversary of the English writer William Shakespeare's death and possibly also his birth (according to the Julian calendar) and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (according to the Gregorian calendar). 


  1. Hmmm. I too am apathetic about St. George, though for different reasons from yours.

    My reasons are twofold:
    1. I'm Welsh anyway, and and therefore beyond the pale.
    2. I like dragons, so the wrong one won.

    1. I'm Scottish because born of Scottish parents. I can be inspired by St Andrew.


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