Happy St George’s Day!

23 April is an important day in England for two reasons:

  1. It is William Shakepeare’s birthday
  2. It is St George’s Day

English, not British

But, being English, we are more likely to celebrate our most famous writer than our national saint.  St George is the patron saint of England – Scotland has St Andrew and Wales has St David, while Ireland has the much more popular St Patrick – but we do not have a national holiday, or a traditional celebration – not even a special meal to eat on our saint’s day.

While St David is celebrated with the wearing of daffodils, and St Patrick is celebrated with noisy parties, the English prefer to do nothing on their saint’s day.  Some people don’t even know the date of St George’s day.

Perhaps it means that we feel more British than English, especially since English history has tales of conquering and oppressing the world, while British history contains democracy, heroism and freedom fighters.  Or perhaps it is because many English people mistake patriotism for nationalism, which has never been an attractive quality in our history.

How should we celebrate anyway?

Travel around London today and you might see some English flags (the red and white cross of St George, instead of the red, white and blue Union Flag), but the truth is that the English are more likely to fly our flags for an important football match, than for our national day.

And how would we celebrate anyway?  By eating fish and chips in the rain, or wearing a bowler hat and carrying an umbrella?  We’re not really sure that there is a proper “English” way of celebrating.  So perhaps being quiet and polite about our national day, is the most traditionally English way of all of marking the occasion.

What do you think?  Is there a better way to mark St George’s Day?  Let us know what you think!

Learn more about St George and the “official” celebrations on Trafalgar Square here. 

(This link will take you to the VisitLondon website – Excel English is not responsible for the content of external websites)

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