George ... a poor excuse for a patron saint

St George
St George

So, how did you celebrate St George’s Day?

To honour England’s patron saint, did you wear a red rose, go out morris dancing, or enter a jousting contest, yelling “Have at ye, varlet!” as tradition dictates? No, I thought you wouldn’t have.

The problem with St George is that, as patron saints go, he’s a rotten excuse for one.

For a start, the damned fellow isn’t even English! Not even close.

He was born in old Cappadocia or Anatolia or wherever, fought as a Roman soldier, protested against Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians and was arrested, dragged through the streets and beheaded on April 23rd. End of story. He didn’t even slay a dragon to save a maiden’s life. That was just a myth that arose not in the Heart of England or even deepest Wales, as you might expect, but in Syria.

And supposing he actually had killed a dragon, where’s the honour in helping to hasten the extinction of an endangered species?

George didn’t even become England’s patron saint until some 700 years ago, about 1,000 years after his death.

England adopted him as patron saint because he had appeared as a protecting spirit to Crusaders, who were busy in the Holy Lands slaughtering Muslims and looting their treasures. Hardly something to celebrate, is it?

While the Irish, Scots and Welsh go overboard celebrating saints Patrick, Andrew and David, fewer than one in five English people do anything at all to celebrate St George’s Day. I’ve read that only two in five English people even know his day is April 23rd. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s so many.

In an effort to boost support for St George, David Cameron has been urging us all to fly the flag and – in his words – “celebrate everything it is to be English” ... not “let’s honour some foreign bloke who didn’t kill a dragon after all”.

I agree with Posh Dave that the English have plenty to celebrate. He praised our industry, technology, sport, music, literature and the arts, in which we punch above our weight (Note the allusion to violence again).

I’d rather celebrate the life and work of a man with a far more valid claim to be honoured by a national day on April 23rd: William Shakespeare, great playwright and master of the English language, born and deceased both on that date.

George is just a drag, so in future, let’s make April 23rd “National Willie Day.”

There wouldn’t be a problem with that... would there?