I think his name was George?

St George’s Day is the celebration of the English patron saint’s life. Historically people would wear a rose on their chests. Roses became a symbol of the patron saint because a beautiful bloom is thought to have grown on his grave. This also came from a tradition in Catalonia in Spain - of which St George is also a patron saint - where women would give men a book and receive a rose in return on the feast day. However today the hero is honoured with a flag draped outside a window or being wind whipped outside a car. In this era celebrations are exceedingly more muted than in previous centuries. Are we forgetting part of our country’s heritage? In fact most people cannot tell you the full story of St George. School children are taught about the tale of him slaying the dragon but what is the truth behind his tale. And the more pressing question is why don’t we get a bank holiday?

Once upon a time, St George’s day was celebrated as widely as Christmas is. In 1415 it was declared a national feast day and holiday in England. That is until 1707 after England united with Scotland when tradition wavered. Today people go about their day, to work, or school as normal and some may even forget that it is a national celebration. I myself was shocked to be told of the date and this struck a chord of fear in me. I thought of the future generations not able to remember his name or his tale and dismissing the day all together. In recent years there have been campaigns and petitions to make the celebration a national holiday like our neighbouring countries- Wales and Scotland have to honour their saints.

Is Saint George’s Day going out of fashion? Compared to Ireland's St Patrick’s Day which  is known internationally and even America celebrates the holiday. If we do not remember St George’s Day are we not forgetting a part of us as a nation? St George is the emblem of England and represents the nobility, bravery and strength of England. He has been a key figure in English tradition for centuries and if we are not celebrating his victory then we are losing part of ourselves.

Most young people do not care that St George is becoming out dated and could be an opportunity to celebrate more relevant things. People may be tired of hearing the tale of the knight in shining armour slaying the dragon to save the damsel in distress. The story does mix reality with fiction and I can see why people believe the tale to be out-dated and yes, boring. It is a good story to read to children and is now, what once was read to nations is now reduced to a bedtime story. However this tale was written many centuries ago and is just a story that people created about St George. People do not have to take every word with seriousness and should accept the story for what it is: a story. It may be boring, out dated or not in fashion but this day is a day to mark England’s accomplishments, spirit, and the life of its hero: St George. We are not commending a man for slaying a dragon to marry a princess but we are rejoicing in the nobility of the Saints and the nations actions. That day is supposed to be everyone in the country uniting and celebrating one another’s English-ness in their own ways and each other’s diversity that compose England. 

To prevent St George becoming hijacked for political means by minorities it is not too late to use him in a positive way to bring all that is good in our country that makes us the nation we are by making him more contemporary and relevant so that we and future generations can continue to carry his spirit and cause for centuries to come and of course, finally we may get a bank holiday.

Written by Tara Tate, Farringtons School