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St. George's Day - Why We Celebrate

St. George's Day - Why We Celebrate

St George is the patron saint of England as well as of Aragon and Catalonia. We celebrate St George’s Day on the anniversary of his death, April 23rd, in order to remember him.

Sometimes St George’s Day is moved so that it doesn’t clash with Easter, so it has also been celebrated on the 2nd of May and the 28th of April in the past.

St George was a high ranking officer in the Roman army who died in AD 303. He’s best known for his fight with the dragon, and the story goes that the dragon commanded the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden every day. Appalled, St George resolved to kill the dragon and set out the following day to the valley where it lived. As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave. He killed it (some say atop of Dragon Hill in Uffington, Berkshire. It’s said that no grass grows where the dragon’s blood trickled down the hill) although other sources say the dragon was in Libya, and there’s no record of St George ever having travelled to England.

He was made the Patron Saint of England by King Edward III in 1415 and up until the 18th century it was celebrated with a national feast day, as well as a holiday in England. The celebrations declined after England was united with Scotland in 1707. 

Nowadays it’s not a bank holiday in England (although Ireland and Scotland mark their Saint’s days with a well-deserved day off) although it’s still celebrated. Salisbury holds an annual St George’s Day pageant, the origins of which are believed to date back to the 13th Century, when the holiday was first introduced. Today they still celebrate with a Punch and Judy show, as well as a Town Crier competition, fairground rides, live music and street food.

 

Sources:

http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/St-George-Patron-Saint-of-England/

http://www.salisburycitycouncil.gov.uk/s/st-georges-day

 

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