Relocating to London, England is a shift in culture as much as a shift in geography. To respect the UK and its traditions, make a point to familiarize yourself with their holidays and other values. To help you out a little, today’s post for the April A to Z Blogging Challenge is devoted to a particular figure in history:
“S” is for ST. GEORGE’S DAY!
Tomorrow—Saturday, 23 April—is St. George’s Day, which is akin to St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland in that St. George is England’s patron saint. It seems very unlike St. Patrick’s Day, however, in terms of its popularity in celebration. For this very reason, there’s a British contingent out there seeking to make this day more recognized than it is presently.
But before we can recognize the day, perhaps I should make the man himself a little more recognizable for you. Which is going to be a bit of a challenge, as there are actually very few facts known about him! The tales about him, rather, are based more in mythology than reality; some speculate whether he actually existed at all. As for what is known, the BBC website provides the following “facts” that should be taken with a grain of salt:
- 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
The way in which we perhaps best recognize St. George is that mythical image of him astride his steed and slaying a dragon. This tale became widespread in the book The Golden Legend, which appeared in the 15th century. As the story goes, a town plagued by a dragon tried to appease it with sheep and, when that wasn’t enough, people. The victims for this sacrifice were chosen by lottery, but the king of the country seriously second-guessed this solution of his when his own daughter was selected. The citizenry wasn’t having his hypocrisy, though, so the young damsel was indeed put in distress…until, that is, a knight by the name of George came to pass by and discover what was amiss. Spearing the dragon, George had the princess lead the weakened beast into town as though it was a docile pet. He then commanded that the entire kingdom be baptized, after which he officially killed the dragon. The king then raised a church in St. George’s honor, upon which a fountain of healing waters sprang.
St. George is thus regarded as a patron saint of illnesses like leprosy and plague. He also represents farmers, soldiers, cavalry, chivalry and such.
St. George is not exclusive to England, but rather, shared by Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Moscow, Istanbul, Genoa, and Venice. His significance to England, however, grew when he allegedly appeared to the crusaders to lead them in battle. And if you’ve been following my Weekend Warrior Sunday series on English monarchs, you might recall that King Edward III established the Order of the Garter in the 14th century, a brotherhood of knights that he placed under St. George’s patronage. St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is also in his honor, and England further credits him with the red cross on its national flag, which we likewise see incorporated into the UK’s Union Jack.
The real and mythological plights of St. George should render the challenges of your London move pale in comparison. Working with London lettings agents and landlords can certainly feel like you’re up against an overwhelming, fire-breathing monster, but don’t let the stress of doing it on your own fan the flames—London relocation can quell the fire by helping you to rent an apartment and freeing your time for getting better acquainted with the UK and its history.