Language focus | 23.04.2010

Happy Saint George's Day

The 23rd of April is widely accepted as the date on which our Patron Saint George died and is England’s National Day. We thought it appropriate to mention the Patron Saint of England on this notable day, and to mention that although Saint George’s Day is not celebrated in England with anywhere near the same fervour as his Irish counterpart, we are not the only nation to hold dear the legend of George and the Dragon.

Stephanie investigates how other countries celebrate Saint George:

“During my time at University in Barcelona, I was surprised to see the Barcelona flag proudly hung from balconies and bunting across the narrow streets. On further inspection, the Saint George’s cross indeed makes an appearance on the cities flag and George is the Patron Saint of the region.

Saint George’s Day, or La Diada De Sant Jordi as it is known in Catalonia, is an important feast in the Catalan calendar. Masses of flower and book stalls line the streets, as it is tradition for women to buy their novio (boyfriend) a book, and for the men to return the favour to their novias (girlfriends) with a rose. Such is the enthusiasm for this tradition that this one day alone makes up half of the yearly book sales in Catalonia. It is a veritable celebration, especially in contrast to the lack of excitement in which our Saint’s day passes here.

Upon further inspection, Saint George is the Patron Saint of a notable number of countries and cities (seemingly more than Patrick I might add), including Ethiopia and Russia.

Now Saint Patrick earns inhabitants of Ireland a public holiday, and is widely seen as a day to celebrate Irish culture both in Ireland and far beyond. This makes me ponder whether then it is patriotism that plays the pivotal part in the celebrations (or lack of them) in the name of our Patron Saint’s day. It is no secret that Catalonia is fiercely proud and considers itself to be independent, and the day carries a true air of merriment and tradition.

So whether you go the whole hog and don a dragon suit and dance to a brass band, or merely buy a book or a flower for your loved one, lets try to not let our Saint’s day pass unnoticed here in the UK.”


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