St George’s Day is here, celebrating the life and death of a legendary soldier and saint. There have been calls to make it a bank holiday, but it remains a normal day for millions
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St George’s Day is a holiday that has its roots in ancient history.
Celebrated each year on April 23, events are held across England to commemorate the country’s patron saint, with pubs raising the English flag on the day.
The biggest event is The Feast of St George, which takes place at Trafalgar Square in London and is back on again this year after being canceled due to Covid-19.
However, St George’s Day isn’t a bank holiday, despite continued calls to make it one.
The origins of the day go back hundreds of years and even though many other countries take the day off to honor their patron saint, England doesn’t.
Here is everything you need to know about St George’s Day.
What is St George’s Day?
St George’s Day is the annual day England honors its patron saint.
Today it is widely considered a secular event, rather than a holiday tied to Christianity.
The origins of the day can be traced back to Roman times and his story has become intertwined with myth.
Who was St George?
St George was a soldier who was adopted as the patron saint of England by King Edward III.
There are many conflicting stories on who he was and what he did in his life, with some believing he was born in what is now modern-day Turkey, while others think it was Palestine.
The legend goes that he was born to Christian parents and became a great soldier in the Roman army.
He refused to go against Christianity, despite the Roman legions still worshiping the old gods such as Jupiter, Uranus and Saturn at the time.
For his refusal to obey, he was executed in 303AD after he denied Emperor Diocletian’s orders to give up his faith.
Many stories, paintings and poems show him slaying a dragon, though it’s, erm, fairly unlikely that ever happened.
The dragon in these myths likely symbolizes the devil, and St George vanquishing it shows the strength of his faith.
The legend was lifted from other pre-Christian narratives, usually concerning a dragon that demanded human sacrifices from nearby villagers. Only when a beloved princess was chosen as the next sacrifice did the hero swoop in and rescue her, killing the dragon and ending its reign of terror.
Why isn’t St George’s Day a bank holiday?
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April 23 is St George’s Day for England, but it isn’t a bank holiday.
Over the last few decades, there has been increasing calls to make the day an official bank holiday, as many other countries take a day off for their patron saint.
In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn said that if he won the general election, he would make St George’s Day an official bank holiday.
He wouldn’t have stopped there, as he would have made St David’s Day in Wales, St Andrew’s Day in Scotland and St Patrick’s Day in Ireland bank holidays for all of the UK.
If the government ever decides to make St George’s Day a new bank holiday, they would have to get permission from the ruling monarch – Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen would have to issue a Royal Proclamation to create a new bank holiday.
Currently, the British government has no plans to add any new bank holidays to the UK calendar.