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I am sure that everyone enjoyed St Patrick’s Day and made everyone’s favourite Irish Holiday a night to remember or perhaps a night forgotten in a flurry of Alcohol and a wash of green. But wehat about England’s patron Saint day? and who is England’s Patron Saint for that matter? A recent survey found that only ¼ of English people knew that their patron Saint was St George and one in five people knew that St George’s feast day is on the 23rd of April, despite the fact that St George’s day has been around since 1222. So why is St George forgotten whilst St Patrick lives on? And what is the point of St George’s day anyway?
Unlike St George’s Day, St Patricks was one of the many traditions taken with the Irish citizens when they first moved to America. The first parade to celebrate St Patricks day was organized by the Irish society of Boston in 1737. From then on St Patricks day was to become more widely celebrated and rapidly commercialised. The Americans took St Patrick’s and embellished its traditions shaping the Holiday we know today. One of the busiest days for bars, St Patricks is a holiday that is widely celebrated by Catholics and non-Catholics whilst St George’s day is slowly forgotten.
Until the end of the 18th century St George’s day was celebrated with festivities to rival that of Christmas, but with the union of Scotland and England St George’s celebrations began to dwindle. Little is known about St George but it is thought he was born in Cappadocia, modern day Turkey, in the third century AD; he later became a Roman soldier who protested against the Roman’s persecution of the Christians. He was imprisoned, tortured and finally beheaded at Lydda in Palestine. George’s reputation grew in England as the crusaders brought back tales of him miraculously leading the crusaders into battle, because of this the Council of Oxford named the 23rd of April St George’s day in 1222.
Recently St George’s celebrations have been on the rise but still remain nothing in comparison to St Patricks. A petition was put forward to the House of Commons to make St George’s a public holiday but the debate still rages, was St George English or Turkish? In spite of this organisations such as English Heritage are working to encourage more St George’s celebrations, yet the only national tradition which remains on St George’s day is the Queen’s announcement of new members of the Order of the Garter.
So is St George’s day just another British tradition lost amongst the emergence of modernity? Perhaps the Saint is celebrated less because of the unity of Britain, people may now see themselves as British, rather than English. Or maybe individuals see nationalistic behaviour as wrong as it does not take into account world views and our multi cultural nation which could be seen as more important than the countries’ traditions. Whatever the reason, St George’s day is another holiday slowly becoming lost in the dust of time.