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. 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.
Everything about Saint George is dubious, 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
In the ninth century there is a popular story: St. George on horseback as the winner of a dragon. This story, which is part of the Golden Legend, also known as "St. George and the Dragon" and is the likely origin of all fairy tales about princesses and dragons in ancient Occidente. A Christian interpretation of the myth: Jorge would be a believer, the white horse the Church and the dragon would represent paganism, idolatry, temptation and Satan.
"St George's Day" is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. St George's Day is celebrated on 23rd April, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in AD 303. For Eastern Orthodox Churches who use the Julian calendar, 23rd April corresponds to 6th May on the Gregorian calendar.
A traditional custom on St George's day is to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though this is no longer widely practised. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on 23rd April festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it. Traditional English foods and drink (e.g. afternoon tea) may be consumed.
It is also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain—Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca. It is the second most important National Feast in Catalonia, where the day is known in Catalan as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one. La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day), also known as El dia de la Rosa (The Day of the Rose) or El dia del Llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday held on 23rd April, with similarities to Valentine's Day. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and colleagues. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is also customary.
As in the rest of the ancient Crown of Aragon, the Feast of St George is celebrated enthusiastically in the Community of Aragon, being the country's patron saint and its national day. As in Catalonia, roses and books are exchanged among individuals, often bearing ribbons with the colors of Aragon's flag. Valencia celebrates St George's Day with a different intensity, though in several zones it has similarities to Valentine's Day, like in Catalonia.
The International Publishers Association proposed this date to Unesco, with the aim of promoting culture and the protection ofintellectual property through copyright.