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April 23rd is St George’s Day in England and remembers St George, England’s patron saint. The anniversary of his death, which is today, is seen as England’s national day. St. George’s Day is not a public holiday anymore, however, it used to be a national holiday in England. 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.

St George was born around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose up through the ranks of the Roman army. He 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 inhabitants 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, St George killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water.   He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod, Israel.

St George’s Day used to be celebrated as widely as Christmas, but the celebrations waned by the end of the 18th century after England had united with Scotland on May 1, 1707.

The most widely recognized symbol of St George’s Day is St George’s cross, a red cross on a white background, 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. It has been the official flag of England for centuries, but the Union Flag, a combination of St George’s cross, St Andrew’s cross and St Patrick’s cross, is the national flag of the U.K. Now St George’s cross is used as a national symbol by fans of the English national football, rugby and cricket teams. At international matches, flags and scarves bearing this cross are worn and people even paint it on their faces.

Paul Hopkins, Sales & Marketing Executive