While you may not have donned your England shirt since our defeat in the Euros final last summer, this weekend’s St George’s Day celebrations might just provide the perfect opportunity. Commonly known as a day where we celebrate all things English, the story of England’s patron saint and his battle against a legendary dragon is as well known as the red and white flag.
But, if you’re in need of a quick refresher on all things St George’s, we’ve put together a quick guide so you can brush up on your history skills. Likewise, if you’re heading into Manchester this weekend, you’ll find more information on how to get involved in this year’s celebrations.
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What is St George’s Day?
Saint George is thought to have been born in Palestine in the 3rd Century AD to Christian parents. While he is commonly known as the patron saint of England, we actually share him with a number of nations, including Catalonia and Aragon.
He quickly rose up the ranks as a soldier in the Roman Army, but was tortured because he refused to give up his Christian faith. He was subsequently executed in 303 AD for refusing to stop being a Christian when requested by the Emperor Diocletian, who was leading a campaign against Christians.
In 1415, St George’s Day became a national feast day and holiday in England. His heroic tale of him later served as the inspiration and focus on a book called The Golden Legend. The story tells of how Saint George slayed a dragon and saved a maiden in distress – however many believe this to be a myth, even if its though it makes for a good story.
The reason why roses became a symbol of the Saint is because a bloom of flowers is thought to have grown around his grave. Historically, people would wear a rose on their chest to mark the day.
When is St George’s Day?
St George’s Day is celebrated on April 23 every year – the day of his execution. This year, it falls on a Saturday. Unlike St Andrews Day in Scotland and St Patricks Day in Ireland, it is not a bank holiday.
Usually, when it falls on a weekday, many celebrations are held on the nearest weekend, but this year it falls on a Saturday and celebrations will take place across the weekend. Many have called for St George’s Day to be made a national bank holiday, including former leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn, who back in 2018, pledged to give the public an extra day off for the saints’ day if Labor won the next general election .
What’s happening in Manchester on St George’s Day?
The largest celebration of the day in Manchester is the city’s annual St George’s Day parade. The parade saw marchers dressed in colorful costumes alongside horse-drawn carriages, brass bands, and a convoy scooters following closely behind.
The spectacle usually attracts thousands of spectators, who line the streets of Manchester, waving the St George’s flag as it passes the 2.5 mile route through the city centre.
Along the route, there will often be street performances from theater groups, musicians and comedians. This year’s parade will take place the day after St George’s Day, on Sunday, April 24.
The parade leaves Miles Platting at noon and is expected to be returned to the Adactus Miles Platting Site by 2.30pm.
Where can you watch the St George’s Day parade in Manchester?
The parade will set off from Miles Platting and travel through Manchester city centre, before returning to the starting point. Starting at Varley Street in Miles Platting at noon, it will turn left on to Oldham Road before proceeding south.
It will then head to Piccadilly Gardens, where it is expected to arrive at 12.45pm. On it’s way back round to Miles Platting, the parade will travel up Newton Street before heading to Great Ancoats Street, leading onto Oldham Road, and finally making its way back to Adactus in Miles Platting.
Transport for Greater Manchester has said that roads in the city center are expected to be closed between 9.00am and 2.30pm for the parade. Find out more about which roads will be closed and how transport will be affected on the day here.
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