St George’s Day is the day when the English remember St George, England’s patron saint. The anniversary of his death, which is on April 23, is seen as England’s national day. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess.
St George’s Day used to be a national holiday in England. It is now an observance that is celebrated with parades, dancing and other activities. Flags with the image of St George’s cross are flown on some buildings, especially pubs, and a few people wear a red rose on their lapel. Church services on the Sunday closest to April 23 often include the hymn ‘Jerusalem’, written by the poet William Blake. The words describe a supposed visit to Glastonbury, England, by Jesus Christ during his youth.
Countries that celebrate St George’s Day include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, England, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia. Cities include Genoa in Italy, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta, Moscow in Russia, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and many others. It is also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain — Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca.
St George 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 for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.
St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the residents of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity. It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings.
St George’s Day was once celebrated as widely as Christmas. But the celebrations diminished by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1, 1707. In recent times, there has been a push, involving campaigns and petitions, to make the day a public holiday in England.
The most widely recognised symbol of St George’s Day is St George’s cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England’s national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saint George’s cross was originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa. Around 1190, the King of England started paying the Doge of Genoa to protect ships originally from the city of London and the rest of England that sailed in the Mediterranean.
Now roses of many different colours are sold to be given as a present. Depending on the colour of the rose the meaning of the gift will be different. The red rose is the most common and it is given usually to lovers because it signifies passion and love. The blue rose has also become popular and it is usually given to friends since they symbolise trust. It is said that if you give blue roses to someone who is anxious, it will help that person to feel calm. Pink roses are usually given to thank someone else for an important favour, or simply for that person’s affection. These roses denotes tenderness and kindness towards others. Purple roses symbolise nobility, femininity and seduction, and thus are a good choice to give to women. White roses symbolise purity and innocence, and are often given to express someone the desire of having a deep long relationship, made of pure love and lasting forever. It is also said that if they are given to an ill person you are showing your caring towards that person. Yellow roses are a little less common, but are also seen. They symbolise joy and happiness, the way they are usually given to teenagers and also in celebrations.