British Culture – St George’s Day

St George is the Patron Saint of England and St George’s Day is celebrated on the 23rd of April.

The story of St George is an interesting one and not one that many people really know well.

St George was born around the year 280 in Turkey. Twenty-three years later he was executed for being a Christian, on April 23 303 and is buried in Lod in Israel. He was the personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian who was apparently responsible for having St George tortured to make him deny his faith, however, George stayed faithful to the end, and was eventually beheaded.

According to legend in the town of Silene there was a water well that was guarded by a dragon. Every day the people of Silene had to offer a sacrifice to the dragon to be allowed to get their water. They threw dice to decide the next person to be sacrificed. One day St George was visiting the town and a princess had been chosen to be the sacrifice, and St George killed (slayed) the dragon and saved the princess, which then gave all the townsfolk access to water and keep their princess. Because of this, all the people in the town converted to Christianity as a thank you.

Apparently, in the past, St George’s Day was as popular as Christmas, but this changed after England united with Scotland at the end of the 18th century.  As well as being patron saint to England, St George is also the patron saint of  Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Georgia and Russia.

St George is symbolised by the white flag and a big red cross. It has officially been the flag of England for a long time. Nowadays it is used as the national symbol of England when sporting events happen.

The Union Jack is St George’s cross, St Andrew’s cross and St Patrick’s cross combined.