Learn more about St George’s Day, England’s national day held on April 23rd in honour of St George, the patron saint of England.

Who was St George?

Many legends in many cultures can be found about St George, but they all have a common theme: he must have been an outstanding character in his lifetime, for his reputation to have survived for almost 1,700 years! Many say he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess. He 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 on April 23rd, 303 for being a Christian. He became the patron saint of a number of places such as Bulgaria, England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Portugal and Russia.

History of St George’s Day

St George’s Day is held on the anniversary of his death which is on April 23rd. April 23rd is not a public holiday and schools, stores, post offices, businesses and other organisations are open as usual. Many people in England don’t celebrate the national day at all, however, in recent years, celebrating St George’s Day has gradually regained popularity. From the 15th century, St George’s Day used to be a national holiday in England and was celebrated as widely as Christmas. The celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England united with Scotland on Mayst 1, 1707. In the city of Salisbury, there is an annual St George’s Day pageant which historians believe dates back to the 13th century.

St George’s day symbols

The most famous symbol is St George’s Cross, a red cross on a white background which is often displayed as a flag. It is also England’s national flag. During the crusades in the 1100s and 1200s, English knights used St George's Cross as part of their uniform. 

Will you celebrate St George's Day?

PhotoGarry Knight(CC BY-SA 2.0)