ST. GEORGE´S DAY (ENGLAND´S DAY)

 

Saint George is the patron saint of England and it is celebrated on April 23.

St. George's Day is not celebrated as much in England as other National Days are around the world; it is simply acknowledged. It was once a major feast in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century. However, this tradition had waned by the end of the 18th century. In recent years the popularity of St. George's Day appears to be increasing gradually. BBC Radio 3 had a full programme of St. George's Day events in 2006, and Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, has been putting the argument forward in the House of Commons to make St. George's Day a public holiday. Although Saint George is the Patron Saint of England, it is believed that St. George was not English and it is not certain that he ever visited England.
A traditional custom at this time was to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though with changes in fashion this is not as widely done. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St. George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on April 23 festooned with garlands of St. George's crosses. However, the modern association of the St. George's Cross with sports such as football, cricket and rugby means that this tradition too is losing popularity with people who do not associate themselves with those sports. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St. George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it.
There is a growing reaction to the recent indifference to St. George's Day. Organizations such as English Heritage, and the Royal Society of Saint George (a non-political English national society founded in 1894) have been joined by the more prominent St. George's Day Events company (founded in 2002), with the specific aim of encouraging celebrations. They seem to be having some effect. On the other hand, there have also been calls to replace St. George as patron saint of England, on the grounds that he was an obscure figure who had no direct connection with the country. However there is no obvious consensus as to whom to replace him with, though names suggested include St. Edmund, St. Cuthbert, or St. Alban, with the latter having topped a BBC Radio 4 poll on the subject.
St. George is also the patron saint of the Scouting movement. Many Scout troops in the United Kingdom take part in a St. George's Day Parade on the nearest Sunday to April 23. A message from the Chief Scout is read out and the Scout Hymn is sung. A "renewal of promise" then takes place where the Scouts renew the Scout's Promise made at joining and at all Scout meetings. Many schools around the UK do allow students to wear their scouting uniforms in replace of their school uniforms for that one day.
St. George's Day is traditionally the occasion when the Queen announces new appointments to the Order of the Garter.

 

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