St George’s Day ?

April 23, 2014 — 57 Comments

St-Georges-Day

Happy St. George’s Day. My Mum asked if I was putting a photo together for St George’s Day for Facebook as I had the other patron saint’s days. I thought that I must as it is England’s national day, I knew our symbol was the red rose but I’m not sure why. We never celebrated it at school and I must admit that I knew very little about what should be a celebration of all things “English”. I knew more about America’s Independence Day, 4th July, and other celebrated nation days such as St Patricks Day, Ireland, St Andrew’s Day, Scotland and St David’s Day, Wales. It seems that St George’s day usually passes by in England without so much as a whimper.

Morris-Dancing

Morris Dancers – Very Old England

There was a survey last year in the Daily Telegraph that found only 40% of English people were able to identify St George’s Day as falling on April 23rd, compared with 71% who could give July 4th as the American national holiday. 75% of those polled said that the Irish saint’s day is more widely celebrated in Britain than St George’s Day. The good news was that the appetite to celebrate it rose to 76% of those questioned who wanted to celebrate their national identity.

A Little Bit Of Background

Though there is very little factual information about St George there seems to be several interesting things reported about him. Here is what I found out :

Saint George is the patron saint of England. He’s popularly identified with England and English ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry – but actually he wasn’t English at all. Very little, if anything, is known about the real Saint George. Pope Gelasius said that George is one of the saints “whose names are rightly reverenced among us, but whose actions are known only to God.”

st-george-stained-400

Everything about Saint George has been passed down through the generations, so the information below should be taken as mythical rather than real.

• Born in Cappadocia, an area which is now in Turkey
• Lived in 3rd century AD
• His parents were Christian
• Later lived in Palestine
• Became a Roman soldier
• Protested against Rome’s persecution of Christians
• Imprisoned and tortured, but stayed true to his faith
• Beheaded at Lydda in Palestine
• 23rd April was named as Saint George’s day in 1222

He is patron saint not only of England but also of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany and Greece; and of Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa and Venice (second to Saint Mark). He’s also patron saint of soldiers, archers, cavalry and chivalry, farmers and field workers, riders and saddlers, and he helps those suffering from leprosy, plague and syphilis. In recent years he has been adopted as patron saint of Scouts.

I am not sure why St George is always associated with the slaying of a dragon but the imagery of a Knight all in white slaying a dragon to save the fair damsel in distress is right up my street as a girl brought up on Disney cartoons.

st-georges-day-celebrations-at-tamworth-castle

St Georges’s Day Celebrations At Tamworth Castle

 

I am not sure why the government over the years has so actively discouraged the celebration of St George’s day but I do hope that future generations will not allow this tradition to die out. We should be proud of our English traditions and learn to love and celebrate them, after all everyone loves a good party.

William-Shakespeare

Wherefore art thou, Shakespeare ?

Talking of English celebrations by coincidence the 23rd April was the date that William Shakespeare died and this year it is the 450th anniversary of his birth in 1564. There is a little disagreement about the actual date of his birth and the romantic in me would go for the 23rd April although the date of his baptism was recorded as the 26th April 1564.

Sneaking-Past

Who Needs A Knight In Shinning Armour,

Most people are aware of his great works and literary masterpieces here are a few common sayings that are used all the time that were penned by the great bard:

A laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
A sorry sight (Macbeth)
As dead as a doornail (Henry VI)
Eaten out of house and home (Henry V, Part 2)
Fair play (The Tempest)
I will wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)
In a pickle (The Tempest)
In stitches (Twelfth Night)
In the twinkling of an eye (The Merchant Of Venice)
Mum’s the word (Henry VI, Part 2)
Neither here nor there (Othello)
Send him packing (Henry IV)
Set your teeth on edge (Henry IV)

Shakespeare language

Finally

After reading several articles about the great writer these quotes stuck in my mind:

“This above all else: To thine own self be true.”
“Nothing ventured, nothing gain.”
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves..”

Here is a video of a beautiful song “Sweet Chance, That Led My Steps Abroad” composed by Michael Head a great English composer which I thought lent itself well to this celebration of all things English.

57 responses to St George’s Day ?

  1. 

    You can find a bit more about the legend of the dragon and other information about St. George here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/George_the_Trophy-bearer

    And his hagiography by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic is online at this link: http://www.stnicholasredbank.org/april23-30.htm#a23

    Nice post.

    • 

      Thank you Virgil and for your comments here and on my google+, the first link answered my questions of the story of the dragon, I looked up ‘hagiography’ because I hadn’t come across that word before and discovered it’s the writing of the lives of saints.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. 

    Very very good !!! St George blessed you Charlotte !!!!

    • 

      Merci beaucoup Pascal and thank you for another lovely picture ‘Saint George’s Day’, we had over 20,000 views on Facebook, over 1000 visitors stopped to like 😉 and over 60 shares. I am very grateful you help me to keep my posts interesting.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. 

    Thanks for the mini history lesson, Charlotte! And lovely singing, as always. 🙂

    • 

      I’ve always loved history Stephanie, every project we were set at school my teachers used to get a large ring binder full of research 😉 looking back now I bet they used to think “oh my goodness I’ve got to read all this!” ha ha. I sing a song that Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest set to music by Thomas Arne called ‘Where the Bee Sucks’ but I couldn’t find a recording – a shame because it would have fit lovely.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  4. 

    Awesome info! And Fabulous Dress!

  5. 
    Son of Sharecroppers April 24, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Thank you so very much! I knew that today was Shakespeare’s birthday (and I agree with the dating: in his time, baptisms usually occurred three days after birth), but I did not know about St. George’s Day.

    I trace almost all of my heritage to the British Isles, so I’m delighted to learn more about St. George.

    And aren’t you just the total star? A few years from now (provided that I’m still on the right side of the lawn), I’m going to be saying to friends, “I knew that young Charlotte back when she was just a wee lassie.”

    Well, I won’t say exactly that, but you get the drift.

    The sky is not the limit for you, young lady. It’s just the starting line.

    • 

      Hi Dan, you were one of my first blog friends and I always appreciate you popping back and being so supportive. I’m happy to be called ‘wee lassie’ after a couple of years in Scotland now I’m used to it :).

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. 

    Beautiful voice, Charlotte! You are truly blessed and talented. Thank you for sharing the information on St. George’s Day and about Shakespeare.

    • 

      I’m glad you enjoyed my recording Janice, it’s a beautiful song. I’m very blessed to be doing what I love to do. I was going to take a Shakespeare module this year but it didn’t fit into my timetable so I shall have to continue with my studies of his work outside of school and this helps with that.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  7. 

    Wow and all that for little old me 😀
    Okay maybe not me, but for my birthday.

    About the dragon there are several ideas that have formed over time.
    One is that it might be a Greek story to which a Christian (George) took over the hero. And in Greek mythology dragons were pretty common.
    Another idea of the dragon is that they put I in the picture to show his heroic deeds. The dragon symbolising cities or countries.
    For the scouts the story of the dragon is most used. as it sounds more heroic to slay a dragon.

    Have a wonderful weekend. It was a wonderful song.
    Keep on smiling. It is beautiful one.
    Best wishes
    Ranting Crow

  8. 

    St George is a busy guy! I love your facebook photo 🙂

    • 

      The photo art pictures that Pascal makes are so lovely, stories within stories. My Dad did the dragon one in Photoshop, I’m so lucky to have them both to help with my pictures.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  9. 

    That is interesting that St. George wasn’t English but his day is celebrated in English!

  10. 

    Perhaps there will be more interest in St. George since Kate and William named their son George. Thanks for the lesson on Shakespeare and all the sayings he dreamed up. That was really interesting.

    • 

      Good point, this generation of Royals are quite low key in the UK, there weren’t many photographs of Prince George until this recent trip to Australia. Although saying that, the big Royal celebration events are magnificent spectacles, bringing out the best in us. I wonder whether Shakespeare made them up or that they were in general regular use at the time and he documented and utilised them so beautifully.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  11. 

    Great information and Beautiful voice

  12. 

    How hard that must be to look into the eyes of your audience and maintain such perfection of voice and memory for words.

  13. 

    Thanks for all that info! I’m google eyed, but rightly so!

  14. 

    Very interesting post. Well researched. Enjoyed that song “Sweet Chance, That Led My Steps Abroad”. Beautiful singing. 🙂

  15. 

    I am amazed that 4th of July is identified with more than an older traditional holiday. We awful Americans have that special way of bull dozing our way into cultures!

    It was also interesting to read all of the phrases we use today that came from Shakespeare. To have that much influence!

    Have a great weekend!

    • 

      We’ve lost a lot of traditional festivals, dances etc in England Steve. One of the things I love about Scotland is the way they celebrate their heritage, maintain the traditions, dances and music and spread the love of their culture. I don’t recall ever seeing a Morris Dance live although I have seen Maypole dancing. I love the American culture and my American friends I’ve made at the RCS and have enjoyed a couple of holidays in the USA so I don’t mind that either it’s nice to learn about new celebrations.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. 

    Reblogged this on life with more cowbell and commented:
    Some nifty facts, and very cool visuals, about St. George, as well as some common phrases that came from Shakespeare plays, from soprano/Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) student Charlotte Hoather. Thanks, Charlotte!

  17. 

    A wonderful post and Happy Saint George’s Day…lest we forget.funny, I have been thinking a lot about Shakespeare too. Dianne

    • 

      Hi Dianne I’m pleased you enjoyed my post that means a lot to me. Did you study Shakespeare? I’ve always preferred to learn through enacting his plays but our schools didn’t do much of that when I was there, although my brother did a few plays so perhaps things are changing.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  18. 

    Hello Charlotte,

    I’ve actually been celebrating St. George’s Day all week by reading Shakespeare! Today (I know it’s the day after St. George’s Day, but I couldn’t get hold of the DVD earlier) I watched the BBC’s 1980 production of The Taming of the Shrew (my most beloved of Shakespeare’s plays), for the first time, and found it delightful.

    I knew that we used a lot of phrases from Shakespeare without realizing it, but I didn’t know what they all were. I loved that “mum’s the word” one! And was Shakespeare really the first to ever say that love was blind; I didn’t know that! But the “twinkling of an eye” one is actually a quote that Shakespeare made himself, from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:52. Shakespeare actually uses a lot of Biblical references (and, in Katherina’s final speech from the play I watched today, he was basically paraphrasing the Homily on Marriage from Queen Elizabeth I’s edition of the Book of Common Prayer, as well as several Scriptures, which gives a completely different perspective on the play’s resolution when you know that–but in case you’ve never seen it, I won’t give away any more!)

    All this reminds me of whenever we read “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25) and my brother says, “Why, the Bible is quoting Abraham Lincoln!” Funny, who it is that gets certain phrases attributed to them, regardless of who really used them first.

    And I agree with you in being a romantic who prefers to think that Shakespeare was really born on St. George’s Day–after all, he probably would not have been baptized on the very day he was born; I know I wasn’t, at least, “so [my] mother says, if I may believe her” (Taming of the Shrew, Act Five, Scene One). And I fancy that most of the information about St. George is probably close to the truth, although I can’t quite stretch myself to really believe in the dragon! Maybe he did rescue a girl though–that would be romantic enough, I suppose.

    I loved the song; Charlotte, you have such commanding stage presence! You obviously live out that quote you liked so much, “nothing ventured, nothing gain,” because you’re always striving higher and higher! Keep on going!

    Happy St. George’s Day!

    Cate

    • 

      Thanks Cate, I loved reading your message, never seen Taming of the Shrew but you’ve whetted my appetite for it 🙂
      Like you said it too wondered if the phrases were in common dialogue, taken from elsewhere because we are shaped by what we listen to and read.
      Thanks for all your support x
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  19. 

    This was fascinating! Thank you for sharing this history with your readers.

  20. 

    Wow, what a GREAT blog post! Fabulous.

    • 

      So pleased you enjoyed it. I learnt so much I believe the red rose was carried forward from the War of the Roses between two great English kingdoms the Yorks and the Lancasters but I need to read more about it.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  21. 

    I love this song and you sang it so beautifully. You have a way of singing that makes it all look so effortless – wonderful!

  22. 

    Beautiful rendition.
    Will listen to this a few more times.
    Keep up the good work!

  23. 

    Hi, Charlotte! It’s Friday. 😀 Oh, right. The post. I wonder how come if very little is known about St. George why so many around the world celebrate his impact/accomplishments. Also, to my shame, I must admit I’ve never read anything from Shakespeare, though I’ve heard all of these quotes before. Finally, you can sing very well if I haven’t told you before. I especially like this song, though I can’t make out the lyrics. You should think about going to school for this. I’ve heard that there’s a good place called the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. You should check it out. But it’s only a suggestion. 😀

    • 

      Yay Fridays are great, the weekend to look forward to and all my compositions were handed in yesterday so phew!
      My parents bought me the children’s version of all the Shakespeare plays which was a great introduction to them 😉
      Ha ha ha….if only you knew how much time I spent on pronunciation and improving consonants lol…
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        I’m sorry for taking your studies lightly. And I am glad you finished your work. Very rarely do I read fiction. My attention span usually doesn’t take me passed the first few chapters. Which Shakespeare story do you recommend I read first?

      • 

        Hi Eric, I enjoy my studies and it is a joy not a chore to work on the little details. But all work and no play … well you know how it goes so a little light hearted relief is always welcome 🙂

        As for Shakespeare, I tend to come at this from the perspective of a hopeless romantic so my personal recommendation would be “Romeo and Juliet”.

        null

        This was a picture that I took in Verona of the balcony at which Romeo is said to have wooed the fair Juliet.

        But maybe Macbeth would be a better place to start, it reads like the back story for so many modern works of fiction ( and some no so fictional pieces 🙂 )plenty of double dealing and plotting.

        Best wishes
        Charlotte

  24. 

    This was a really fascinating read! I actually forgot it was St George’s Day. . . LOL fantastic post, thanks for sharing! x

  25. 

    It is amazing how influential Shakespeare has been on the English language! One of the best shows when it was in London was watching the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform his plays.

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