The feast day of St George is celebrated in many countries across the world including, of course, England! The day commemorates the generally accepted date of his death in AD 303. It is also celebrated in the counties of Canada, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia and parts of Spain, and cities including Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta and many others.
In England, the earliest documented mention of St George came from good old St Bede in the 8th century. From the early 15th century, St George’s Day was a pretty big deal – on par with Christmas. The Cross of St George was flown on many major voyages, including those embarked on by Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Pilgrim Fathers.
However, by the end of the 18th century, after the union of England and Scotland, it was no longer celebrated in quite the same manner, but the popularity seems to be gradually increasing again. It is also sometimes linked in with Shakespeare’s birthday/death (see post tomorrow for exciting Shakespeare celebrations!).
It used to be the custom to wear a red rose in the lapel on St George’s day and it is still common to see the St George’s cross flying, particularly on pubs.