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St. George's Day in United Kingdom

Quick Facts

St George's Day in England is annually held on April 23.

Name

St. George's Day

Alternative name

Georgemas

St. George's Day 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

St. George's Day 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015
List of dates for other years

St George's Day in England remembers St George, England's patron saint. The anniversary of his death, which is on April 23, is seen as England's national day. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess.

St. George's Day

According to legend, St George slayed a dragon. Many Christians observe St George's Day in the UK, although it is not a public holiday.

©iStockphoto.com/bogdb

What do people do?

Many people in England don’t observe nor know when the national day is at all. However, in recent years, celebrating St George's Day seems to gradually be regaining popularity in England. From the 15th century, St George's Day used to be a national holiday in England, and was celebrated as widely as Christmas. But the celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1, 1707.

Compared to national day festivities in other countries worldwide, England’s national day is not widely celebrated. One exception is in the city of Salisbury, where there’s an annual St George’s Day pageant, which historians believe dates back to the 13th century. Flags with the image of St George's cross are flown on some buildings, especially pubs, and a few people wear a red rose on their lapel. Church services on the Sunday closest to April 23 often include the hymn 'Jerusalem', written by the poet William Blake. The words describe a supposed visit to Glastonbury, England, by Jesus Christ during his youth.

Public life

April 23 is not a public holiday. Schools, stores, post offices, businesses and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual timetables.

Background

St George was born sometime around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.

St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots.

On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.

St George is the patron saint of a number of places, such as Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Portugal and Russia. He is also remembered in some regional holidays, such as in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada and among the Gorani people who live in a mountainous area in the Balkans and were converted to Islam many centuries ago, but still observe St George's Day. Around the world, a number of days are devoted to St George, including April 23 and dates in November and December of the Gregorian calendar.

Symbols

The most widely recognized symbol of St George's Day is St George's cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England's national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saint George's cross was originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa. Around 1190, the King of England started paying the Doge of Genoa to protect ships originally from the city of London and the rest of England that sailed in the Mediterranean.

During the crusades in the 1100s and 1200s, English knights used St George's cross as part of their uniform. It has been the official flag of England for centuries, but the Union Flag, a combination of St George's cross, St Andrew's cross and St Patrick's cross, is the national flag of the United Kingdom. Now Saint George's cross is used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football, rugby and cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross are worn and people paint it on their faces. It is also has a prominent place on the arms of the City of London and the flags of the city of Barcelona, Spain, and the country of Georgia.

St. George's Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
MonApr 231990St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
TueApr 231991St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
ThuApr 231992St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
FriApr 231993St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SatApr 231994St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SunApr 231995St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
TueApr 231996St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
WedApr 231997St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
ThuApr 231998St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
FriApr 231999St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SunApr 232000St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
MonApr 232001St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
TueApr 232002St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
WedApr 232003St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
FriApr 232004St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SatApr 232005St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SunApr 232006St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
MonApr 232007St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
WedApr 232008St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
ThuApr 232009St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
FriApr 232010St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SatApr 232011St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
MonApr 232012St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
TueApr 232013St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
WedApr 232014St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
ThuApr 232015St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SatApr 232016St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
SunApr 232017St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
MonApr 232018St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
TueApr 232019St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland
ThuApr 232020St. George's DayLocal holidayEngland

Other holidays in April 2014 in United Kingdom

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