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St George's Day
St George's Day
Saint George oil painting by Raphael
Observed by Nations of which St George is the patron saint
Type National day of England and Georgia
Date April 23, May 6, November 23
Observances Flying of the St George's Cross
Related to Feast of Saint George

St George's Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint, including England, Germany[citation needed], the old kingdoms and counties of the Crown of Aragon in SpainAragon, Catalonia and Valencia; Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, and the cities of Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta and many others. St George's Day is celebrated in Albania and Kosovo as well, is a day of joy and believing in God, people will go out and build a fire and play around it, people will bless their houses, fields, their children and everything around them with water as it was the holy water. St George's Day in Albania and Kosovo is celebrated on the 6th of May and is called Shën Gjergji or Shëngjergji and is a day where people celebrate the blessing of God.

St. George is also the patron saint of the Scout Movement.

St. George's Day is known as the Feast of St. George by Palestinians and is celebrated in the Monastery of St. George in al-Khader, near Bethlehem. It is also known as Georgemas.[1]

For England, St. George's Day also marks its National Day. Most countries which observe St. George's Day celebrate it on April 23, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in 303 A.D. St. George's Day is a provincial government holiday in Newfoundland, Canada.

For those Eastern Orthodox Churches that follow the Julian Calendar (the Old calendarists), the April 23 (Julian Calendar) date of St George's Day falls on May 6 of the Gregorian Calendar in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Besides the April 23 feast, some Orthodox Churches have additional feasts dedicated to St George. The country of Georgia celebrates the feast St George on November 10 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on November 23 (Gregorian Calendar). The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the dedication of the Church of St George in Kiev by Yaroslav I the Wise in 1051 on November 26 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on the Gregorian December 9.

The Scout movement has been celebrating St. George's Day on April 23 since its first years, and St. George is the patron saint of many other organizations.

In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calendar it was given the rank of "Semidouble." In Pope Pius XII's 1955 calendar this rank is reduced to "Simple." In Pope John XXIII's 1960 calendar the celebration to just a "Commemoration." In Pope Paul VI's 1969 calendar it is raised to the level of an optional "Memorial." In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher.

St George's feast is ranked higher in England and in certain other regions. It is the second most important National Feast in Catalonia, where the day is known in Catalan as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one. This tradition inspired UNESCO to declare this the International Day of the Book, since April 23, 1616 was also the date of death of both the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar) and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (according to the Gregorian calendar).


In Catholic and Protestant countries



St. George wood carving.

St George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century.[2] However, this tradition had waned by the end of the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland.[3] In recent years the popularity of St George's Day appears to be increasing gradually. BBC Radio 3 had a full programme of St George's Day events in 2006, and Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, has been putting the argument forward in the House of Commons to make St George's Day a public holiday. Although Saint George is the Patron Saint of England, it is believed that St George was not English and it is not certain that he ever visited England, although legend has it that St George was born in Coventry at Caludon Castle in Wyken,[4] though some say he was born in Cappadocia, an area which is now in Turkey[citation needed].

A traditional custom at this time was to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though with changes in fashion this is no longer common. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on April 23 festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. However, the modern association of the St George's Cross with sports such as football, cricket and rugby means that this tradition is rare outside this context. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it.

There is a growing reaction to the recent indifference to St George's Day. Organizations such as English Heritage, and the Royal Society of Saint George (a non-political English national society founded in 1894) have been joined by the more prominent St George's Day Events company (founded in 2002), with the specific aim of encouraging celebrations. Other organisations like the St George Unofficial Bank Holiday are encouraging people to be more proactive by taking the day off work (an unofficial bank holiday). They seem to be having some effect. On the other hand, there have also been calls to replace St George as patron saint of England, on the grounds that he was an obscure figure who had no direct connection with the country. However there is no obvious consensus as to whom to replace him with, though names suggested include St. Edmund,[5] St. Cuthbert, or St. Alban, with the latter having topped a BBC Radio 4 poll on the subject.[6]

In early 2009 Mayor of London Boris Johnson spearheaded a campaign to encourage the celebration of St George's Day. St. George is also the patron saint of the Scouting movement. Many Scout troops in the United Kingdom take part in a St George's Day Parade on the nearest Sunday to April 23. A message from the Chief Scout is read out and the Scout Hymn is sung. A "renewal of promise" then takes place where the Scouts renew the Scout's Promise made at joining. St George's Day is traditionally the occasion when the Queen announces new appointments to the Order of the Garter.


St George's Day is celebrated throughout Lebanon, but especially in towns and villages where churches for St Georges have been erected.


Important cities in Spain

Saint Georges is the saint patron of some important cities, mainly belonging to the territories added to the old kingdoms of Castilla, Leon and Aragon in the historic period of the "Reconquista". Most of the time, the reason for those cities' relation with the Saint as their holy Patron is related to historic events which happened during the "Reconquista". Alcoy is a good example of an important town, placed precisely in the current Autonomous Community: "Valencian Community" (Comunidad Valenciana in Spanish), where Saint George is commemorated at a thanksgiving celebration for the proclaimed aid the Saint provided to the Christians troops fighting the Muslims in the siege of the city. Their citizens commemorate the day with an astonishing festivity where thousand of peoples parade in disguise with superb middle age costumes, forming two "armies" of Moors and Christians, in a re-enactment ceremony based strongly in the music, art and powder (Valencians being masters of the fireworks). Cáceres is a beautiful historic town in western Spain whose Saint Patron is also Saint George, and that is this way since 1229 A.D. The commemoration of the festivity is strongly centered in the world of legends and the fantasy, as well as it is in the history. There is also here the Moorish and Christians re-enactment parade, but the core of the commemoration have to do mainly with the dragon and the battle in with the Holy heroic Knight slayed the evil beast, the princess of the classical legend ( se: Saint George and the Dragon), another local Muslim princess, Christians knights, and the magic, curses, betrayal, love stories ....


Book's day in Catalonia
Roses stall, with Catalan flag
Sant Jordi's cake, in Catalonia

La Diada de Sant Jordi, also known as el dia de la rosa (The Day of the Rose) or el dia del llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday celebrated on April 23 similar to St. Valentine's Day with some unique twists that show the ancient practice of this day. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition. In 1923, a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to honour the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on April 23, 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital in both Catalan and Spanish and this heady one-two punch of love and literacy was quickly adopted.

On Barcelona's most visited street, La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books would have been purchased in the name of love. You will be hard-pressed to find a woman without a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.

The sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, will be performed throughout the day in the Plaça Sant Jaume. And many book stores and cafes host readings by noted authors (look out for 24-hour marathon readings of Cervantes' "Don Quixote"). And there will be a variety of street performers and musicians on hand to add a romantic ambience to nearly every public square and plaza.

Additionally, April 23 is one day of the year when the Palau de la Generalitat, Barcelona's principal government building, is open to the public. Inside this Gothic architectural masterpiece you'll see huge displays of roses created to honour Saint George.

Catalonia has exported this tradition of the book and the rose to the rest of the world. In 1995, the UNESCO adopted April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.

Aragon and Valencia

St George is the patron saint of Aragon, where he is known as San Jorge. Valencia celebrates St George's Day with different intensity.

In Orthodox countries

Saint George Orthodox icon
Roast lamb, a traditional dish on St. George's Day in Bulgaria

If St. George's Day (or any Saint's Day) falls during Lent or on Easter Day it is observed on Easter Monday.


Georgians call St. George's day Giorgoba. It is celebrated every year on 23 November (November 10 on Julian Calendar). It's a very important day for Georgians, schools and Universities are closed and everyone eats Georgian traditional food, and goes to church.


Possibly the most celebrated name day in the country, St George's Day (Гергьовден, Gergyovden) is a public holiday that takes place on 6 May each year. A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb, which is an ancient practice possibly related to Slavic pagan sacrificial traditions and the fact that St. George is the patron saint of shepherds.

St. George's Day is also the Day of the Bulgarian Army, made official with a decree of Knyaz Alexander of Bulgaria on 9 January 1880. Parades are organised in the capital Sofia to present the best of the army's equipment and manpower.


In Serbian St. George's Day is called Đurđevdan (Cyrillic: Ђурђевдан) and is celebrated on 6 May every year, as the Serbian Orthodox Church uses the Julian, Old Style Calendar. St. George's Day is one of the most common Slavas (family patron day) among the Serbs, celebrated not only in Serbia, but also in Montenegro, Republika Srpska and other Serbian lands. Đurđevdan is also celebrated by both Orthodox and Muslim Roma and Muslim Gorani. Đurđevdan is celebrated, especially, in the areas of Raška in Serbia. Apart from being the Slava of many families, St. George's Day is marked by morning picnics, music, and folk dances.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina St. George's Day is also called Đurđevdan and is celebrated by Bosnian Serbs and Roma (both Orthodox and Muslim), but also has been celebrated by the other ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Đurđevdan's widespread appeal can be seen in the folk song Đurđevdan popularised by Bijelo Dugme as well as Meša Selimović's novel Death and the Dervish.


Russian Orthodox Church, which uses Julian Calendar, has two important feasts of Saint George. Besides the April 23 (which falls on May 6 of Gregorian Calendar) feast, common for all Christendom, Russians also celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of St George in Kiev by Yaroslav I the Wise (1051) of November 26 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on December 9. One of the Russian forms of the name George being Yuri, the two feasts are popularly known as Vesenniy Yuriev Den (Yuri's Day in the Spring) and Osenniy Yuriev Den (Yuri's Day in the Fall).

References in literature

In the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, evil things are said to occur on St. George's Day, beginning at midnight. It should however be noted that the date of St. George's Day presented in the book, May 5 (on the Western, i.e. Gregorian Calendar), is St. George's Day observed by the Eastern Orthodox churches (i.e., April 23 of the Julian Calendar, the difference between Gregorian and Julian calendars being 12 days in 1897, one day less than it is in 20th-21st centuries).

(Excerpt from Dracula, 1897) "Do you know what day it is?" I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: "Oh, yes! I know that, I know that! but do you know what day it is?" On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: "It is the eve of St George's Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?"

James Howe's "Nighty Nightmare" also mentions St. George's Day based on Bram Stoker's "Dracula".


External links

Bank holiday petition


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