St. George's Day

St. George is the patron saint of England, just as St. Olav is the patron saint of Norway. He is also the patron saint of a number of other countries (such as Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina) provinces (like Aragón and Catalonia in Spain) and cities (including Moscow and Beirut). So who was St. George, why is he so popular, and what on earth has he got to do with England, where 23 April is the national day, as 17 May is in your country?

What has a dragon got to do with St. George?What has a dragon got to do with St. George?

St. George was not English, and he probably never visited England. But between the 15th and 19th centuries his day was as important as Christmas, and people celebrated it in great style.

Since those times it has been an ordinary working day, and most people do nothing special to remember the saint. But his flag flies on some buildings – mainly pubs – on 23 April and England supporters at soccer and rugby matches wave it to support their teams.
 

The supporter on the left has painted the Union Jack (the flag of the United Kingdom) on his face, while the three others prefer the St. George's Cross - the flag of England (Getty Images)The supporter on the left has painted the Union Jack (the flag of the United Kingdom) on his face, while the three others prefer the St. George's Cross - the flag of England (Getty Images)

There is hope for St. George’s Day. Over the last few years more people have been taking an interest in 23 April. Some people have suggested that St. George’s day should be a public holiday, and everyone would agree to that! On the other hand, there are people who want to find a genuine English saint to replace St. George, but this does not seem easy. The English, it appears, have not been very saintly throughout their history.

Activity

Google St. George and look at some pictures of him. Most of these show the act which he is famous for. What is it, and do you think it is a historical fact?
 

 

Activities for the links below

1) The first web page was made by pupils at a junior school in England. Read it and do the exercise below.

The information in the sentences below is false. Correct the sentences by checking facts in the text. You will have to click on “Find out more . . .” for some of the information.

  1. The British flag consists of a red cross on a white background.
  2. England is the only country in the UK to have a patron saint.
  3. St. George fought against Roman soldiers.
  4. St. George was still alive when people began saying he had killed a dragon.
  5. The orange tree made it difficult for him to kill the dragon.
  6. St. George’s Day is celebrated more than St. Patrick’s Day.
  7. 75% of English people know when St. George’s Day is.
  8. All English people know who their patron saint is.


2) Now go to the second link, which is an article from an online encyclopedia. The English is rather difficult in parts, so first work in twos or threes and make sure you know what the difficult words mean. Then present the most important facts in simple English. Your answer should be a lot shorter than the original text – about 100 words.