23 April 2012
England’s Saints day, to some, an unofficial bank holiday which they believe should be made official, particularly as we in England seem to have fewer bank holidays than most of the other European countries
It is the feast day of St George celebrated by Christian churches. The interesting thing, which I did not know before , was that we share this patron saint with a number of other countries, Canada; Portugal; Cyprus; Greece; Romania; Hungary; Lebanon; Syria; Spain; Bulgaria; Serbia; Bosnia; Albania and Russia. In most of those countries it is celebrated by the Orthodox Church. Because there is no special link with this saint, in fact some people claim that he never even set foot in the country, there have been moves to change our patron saint to someone who is clearly more English but change is unlikely. Today, also happens to be the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth shared with that of the Spanish author Cervantes, best known to ask for his Magnus Opus, Don Quixote.
There are St George organisations throughout the land who traditionally give a St George’s Day dinner at which a number of ceremonies are enacted, keeping alive the pride that we should all feel at being English. The emblem, to be worn in the buttonhole is the rose, which, as I wore one every day throughout the summer, was no hardship.
Unfortunately only a small minority of the population are aware of this Saints day and today very few sport a rose.
I suppose the most outward and visible sign of a celebration is that it is the date that The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded in 1384, whose banner portrays St George on horseback slaying the Dragon, and is the highest order of chivalry or knighthood existing in England. There are only 24 Knights or Lady companions and membership is in the sole gift of the monarch. The Garter Knights were lavish blue velvet ropes and black velvet hats with white plumes. New appointments unannounced on St George’s Day but the chivalric and installation ceremonies take place every year on the Monday of Royal Ascot week
In a country, which is now declared by its government to be multicultural, at least we could retain an element of our Englishness if more prominence was given to St George’s Day. After all from the 15th century it was a major feast and national holiday on a par with Christmas but waned in the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland. Thank heavens there are still some places, in this country, who still hold an annual St George’s Day Pageant. Let us take a pride in being English and by reviving the practice of men wearing a rose in their buttonhole, by displaying a flag of St George – the Red Cross on a white background – and by supporting any moves in Parliament to make it a national holiday.
I think this exhortation to enjoy every day as it comes , sent to me by one of our regular readers, Maureen Jones from Australia, to which could be included taking a pride in your country and therefore apposite to today’s entry. Click here and see is this makes a difference to your life.