Saint George’s Day – 23rd April
St. George is the patron saint of England. According to legend he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess.
He was born in the third century in the year 280, in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier who 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's Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas but the celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1st 1707. In recent times, there have been campaigns and petitions, to make the day a public holiday in England.
St George is the patron saint of a number of other places, including Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Portugal and Russia. 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.
The most widely recognised symbol of St George's Day is the 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.
The flag of St George was flown in 1497 by John Cabot on his voyage to discover Newfoundland and later in 1620 by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh on the Mayflower.
During the crusades in the 1100s and 1200s, English knights used the 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.
Today 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 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.
The Scout Movement
St George was chosen by the founder of the scout movement, Robert Baden-Powell as their patron saint. The British Scout Organisations continue to celebrate St George’s day. Most host events on the Sunday that is closest to St George’s Day – these often include parades and religious services for their members.
The day changes when it is too near to Easter. If it falls between Palm Sunday and the second Sunday of Easter, it is moved.