Happy St Georges Day.
As “An Englishman in the Balkans” today is a special day in my calendar.
Today I will take things easy.
Here are a few explanations about St George should you be interested.
It’s the one day of the year in England, when you are guaranteed to see English flags being waved proudly as April 23 is a national day of celebration about all things English.
In 1415 St George’s Day became a national feast day and holiday in England. But after the union with Scotland in the 18th century it ceased to become a national holiday.
Now most people only mark the day with a flag.
Like I will be doing!
St George is believed to have been born in Palestine in the 3rd Century AD to Christian parents and is also the patron saint of many other places around the world such as Georgia, Serbia and Montenegro.
He was a soldier in the Roman Army. He was executed on the 23rd April 303 AD for refusing to stop being a Christian when asked by Emperor Diocletian – who had begun a campaign against Christians.
The George Cross is the highest such award that a civilian can earn and is awarded for extraordinary bravery and courage in the face of extreme danger. The George Medal is second behind it.
St George represents traditional English chivalry and bravery, although he was not actually English at all.
In fact, he never even set foot on British shores.
The decision to make him patron saint was made by King Edward III when he formed the Order of the Garter in St George’s name in 1350. The badge of the order depicts George slaying a dragon.
April 23, supposedly the date of his death in 303 AD, was adopted in the early 13th Century, as the date of the annual celebration.
The cult of St George was further advanced by Henry V at the battle of Agincourt.
Before the armies clashed, Shakespeare had the immortal phrase: “Cry God for Harry, England and St. George.”
England’s flag is the emblem that Saint George famously wore on his shield or banner.
Richard the Lionheart adopted it in the 12th century, and soldiers wore the Red Cross to distinguish themselves from the enemy in battle.
The English flag DOES NOT look like the sign of a hospital, as some people I know in the Balkans have often said to me.