23 April 2005
Happy St. George's Day! Or not?

Well, today is St. George's day, and you would never know it. St. George was popularized in England by returning crusaders, and has been the patron saint of England since 1425, when English soldiers under Henry V won the battle of Agincourt. He's most famous as the one who slayed the dragon, and who died for his faith. However, unlike Ireland (St. Patrick) or Wales (St. David), England doesn't celebrate the day as a national holiday. No drunken day of revelry, no devout churchgoing, no nothing. In fact, this time last year I was in Zaragoza, Spain and was amazed at how seriously they took St. George's day there (He's the patron saint of Aragon). Businesses were closed for most of the day (except restaurants and bars), and St. George's flags literally covered everything that didn't move.

So why don't they celebrate it here? One theory is that it
costs too much. To add another bank holiday (public or national holiday) would simply cost businesses and taxpayers too much money. On the other hand, the pub industry supports the idea, claiming (rightly so, I think) that they stand to profit immensely from the addition of day of celebration.

In some cases, those who do try to celebrate the day are harrassed. The gentleman above, Phil Moffett (a shop owner in Liverpool), has been ordered to remove his 20 ft flags (celebrating St George) by council officials who say they breach health and safety rules. According to a council spokesman, "There is a clear danger to Mr Moffat himself and an obvious road safety hazard. The flags could distract drivers, fall off and hit cars or pedestrians and it could encourage others to follow suit." How ridiculous is that?!?
We certainly wouldn't want to encourage people to fly flags! Another gentleman, a shop owner in Covent Garden, London, was called a "Nazi" by a passerby for displaying the St. George's cross. Really makes one think...

According to my (English) hubbie, it's a disgrace that the day is allowed to pass by unnoticed. I have to agree. I think every nation should have a special day set aside to celebrate its identity, a day for pride, and of course, for fun. I know I'd go down the pub and help celebrate, even if I am a transplant. But there is hope in sight. A national pub chain has started a petition to make the day a bank holiday, and has promised to give the petition to Tony Blair. And the BBC is getting into it--even
Eastenders had a St. George's party at the Vic! Best of luck to them!

posted by Julie at 8:14 PM 1 comments


Anonymous Scott said...

I think that in our own way we (The Patiotic) do celebrate St. Georges day in our way. Myself, I wear an English shirt, send St George cards and go on Dragon hunts with my kids. Not too sure that it should be a drunken holiday, as too many people would forget the real reasons behind the sainthood as our Irish neighbours have seemingly forgotten that they celebrate an English mans life on Paddy's day!!

Tue Apr 26, 12:56:00 PM GMT+1  

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