England should make an effort to celebrate St George’s day
As St.Patrick's day carnage is just behind us we have an example of a nation united in celebration and patriotism. St.George's day has fallen by the wayside in recent years and even the flag of St George has developed negative connotations of football hooliganism and the racism of the National Front. It is time England reclaimed this day in a spirit of inclusiveness and rejuvenation, and the Mayor's plans to organise celebrations should be welcomed with open arms.
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Tradition is important
I believe we should, and should celebrate it enthusiastically too. St George has been the patron saint of England for the last 800 years, which is a fair stretch. That's a lot of tradition. Traditions are the fabric of a grounded nation and it is important that we uphold central traditions lest citizens forget their heritage and become a loose and divided people.
Furthermore, a sense of identity is integral to the human person, and identity stems from belonging. To simply discard national boundaries would remove a sense of territorial belonging. To be proud of ones country does not necessarily have to translate into tension with nations abroad, and to celebrate ones peaceful traditions should be something citizens embrace.
There is a difference between pride and prejudice....
Outdated traditions can be negative as well as positive and thus become injurious to the health of society as a whole. Traditions involving patron saints are very nationalistic and evoke imperialist attitudes which are detrimental to our modern multiculturalism. Celebrating these traditions with renewed vigour sends out a message that we are making a conscious effort to re-draw those inpenetrable national boundaries, and that our tolerance for cosmopolitainism has taken a downward turn. Just as the tradition of the mediaeval witch-hunt has been consigned to the annals of history, traditional emphasis on national pride should also be phased out lest the witch-hunt should return under the new guise of accepted nationalistic racism.
Myths help us dream – more important now than ever
He didn't slay dragons because there never were any, but what a glorious myth! I know a little local boy, only 4, who loves it. He drapes the English flag around his shoulders, grabs a wooden sword and chases round his garden looking for every dragon he can find. Any nation that lives on unhistorical, unsustainable, crazy myths has far more chance of surviving and dreaming dreams and achieving something really worthwhile, than one hung up on things like the gross domestic product, hedge funds, stock markets and toxic debts like Gordon Brown and his sad boring lot have used to ruin us. Brown and his gang would cover England's green and pleasant land with concrete, runways, shopping malls, car parks and motorways. St George would have us living in the greenwood and fill the land with dreams and myths. George would have us recreate our forests and make pure our streams and populate them with trout and tiddlers, with badgers and otters and with wolves and beavers. The lark would rise again and fill the sky with song. His very name means farmer. No wonder Shakespeare had Prince Hal at Agincourt urging his men 'Cry God for Harry, England and St George' because George himself was a glorious dream, a vision of valour and love defying the forces of evil; and a nation that can dream can hope. England is the land of myth, poetry and mystic vision. England is the land of Bede, Caedmon, the Dream of the Rood, Chaucer's mad-hatter pilgrims, Blake's visions, the mists and passions of Wuthering Heights and the mysteries of Stonehenge.
Dreams, fairytales and myths are great for diverting us from the humdrum practicalities of modern life, but few of us can live in the woods among the elves in this day and age. As inspiring and romantic as this vision of England is, it is undoubtedly a vision of England past. We cannot simply bury our heads in enchanted sands and avoid the political and economic concerns of contemporary global living. To do so would be akin to regressing into a bygone era and would not leave us with a nation which we could be proud of when judging by global standards - something that surely wouldn't have been wished for by St. George himself.
St George represents renewal and there is no better time than now to celebrate that.
Politicians buried the three ancient nations of this island with the Act of Union in 1707 and substituted the dry, mercantile, imperial, land-grabbing thing we can Britain. However in 1998, with devolution, like a ghost from a tomb, England, Scotland and Wales re-emerged, three distinct national identities as once they were for over a thousand years and are now again. A new and different England, embracing people from all over the world just like St George was from abroad, endeavouring to make of them one harmonious nation. He is a worthy patron saint. He embodies England's past, he embraces England vibrant present and future. His flag is the symbol of resurrection. England is being reborn, it is re-discovering its identity, it welcomes with warmth everyone for whom England is their home and their future. His feast day is slap-bang in the middle of Spring, the season of rebirth and renewal, It is Shakespeare's Day, the greatest dreamer of dreams the world has ever known. St George's Day is a day we must celebrate with total abandon.
The only renewal that St. George represents is the renewal of his own myth, dressed up in whatever nation takes a fancy to him. As the patron saint of not just England, but Portugal and Greece, there is nothing intrinsically English about the Saint or the day itself.
If England is going to celebrate all that it is good for, one needs to find a figure that both represents that and that only.
We should be proud!
We should definitely celebrate St George's Day, and have a Bank Holiday in honour of it! As English people, we need to do all we can to keep our traditions and identity and stop worrying about offending anyone who has come here for their 'better life'. I barely see anyone celebrating St George's Day and it makes me very sad!
St George wasn't even English
To celebrate a national holiday based upon the mythical activities of a saint who wasn't even of that nation seems absurd. England should stop this charade immediately and find other ways to voice our national pride. It should follow the lead of (relatively) newer nations such as Australia and just have an England Day, if necessary, but to clebrate the actions of a long dead non-english national and take credit for them as our own is nonsensical.
He is quintessentially English *because* he wasn't. He was from Turkey. Now in its way that's typically English, always looking outwards, always open, always embracing the different and the new. England is a hotchpotch of cultures and always has been anyway from Normans, Saxons and Romans to the mingling with Celtic blood. George is still a valid symbol of England and to dismiss him as such because of his ancestry would be going against our proud culture of acceptance and heterogeneity.
Also, very few countries have a patron saint who was born there. St David of Wales is an exception, but think about St Andrew of Scotland, St Patrick of Ireland (who was born in Wales), St Mark of Venice, et cetera.
We have never really felt the need to celebrate St. Georges day in the past. So why now? We celebrate Ireland's St. Patricks day more than our own, but only because it is a chance to consume as much alcohol as possible. We find our own patron saints day dull, so why start now? It will only alienate people, including our own citizens.
England has always been a land of immigrants and assimilation, yet now, national identity is taking a kicking from all sides. It is human nature to want to feel included as part of a community, and most of out ancient traditions, from the pagan to the organised theist religious, have stemmed from this sense of collective belonging, on a local and national level. Especially on a local level, because of changes to our living and working patterns, these ties that bind have been loosened, and not for the better.
Instead of asking "Why now", should we not be asking "Why not?" Celebrations help cement human relationships and communities, which is what we need now more than ever. If a show of national pride alienates our citizens, maybe we should be asking why they have wanted to become British citizens, if the country's values are so abhorrent to them?
It's Corporations that are pushing St George's Day
St Patrick's Day has been celebrated in England for centuries by Irish people who were forced to emigrate because of starvation or a lack of work. It was a day in the calendar when communities would come together and celebrate their heritage with stories and songs over a drink. The only reason there has been an increased profile surrounding St George's day in recent times is money.
Corporations have caught on to the fact that the Guinness brand comes hand in hand with the modern St Patrick's day. Companies such as Carling and John Smiths have looked at the amount of money that Guinness takes in one day, they have recognised that people who may never have drunk Guinness before in their lives have spent money on the product, and they've attempted to cash in on it by using St George's Day.
These companies aren't building on a historical tradition that is engrained on English culture, they are trying to establish within the modern day psyche of young English people, that there should be a St George's Day 'because the Irish have their day, so why shouldn't we have ours?!'.
Sadly this has nothing to do with national pride, nor does it have anything to do with Christian traditions, as ever, it comes down to money and coroporate profitability.
Well why not have the day sponsored by one of the corporate brands ... it makes sense for the Pub trade! The best choice would be Bombardier which even features the St George's Cross as part of it's logo.
You know as well as everyone else reading this post that English people love nothing else better than a few pints down the pub ... it's even caught on with the women and upper classes who wouldn't have been seen dead with a pint glass prior to 1990!
The only reason St Patricks day has become so popular is because Guiness have sponsored it and spent thousands on hilariously funny marketing paraphernalia and English people have put up with just a few St George's Cross iced buns in April.
SInce the 1500's England has been a Protestant country, so the importance of St George has been lessened for centuries ..
Why not have a Beer that's English to highlight the occassion - so long as it's drunk responsibly and in moderation!!!
What do you think?