Yes, you read that right. April 23rd is St. George’s day here in England, not that you’d have any idea it was if you sit in front of the TV, read some newspapers, listen to the radio and so far I’ve seen no mention of the day in any of the Facebook, Instagram or Twitter posts that I’ve seen in the last couple of hours.
I’m not sure how the Welsh and Scots celebrate St David or St Andrew respectively, but the whole world seems to know when every one seems to find that little percentage of Irish DNA in them to help to celebrate St Patrick.
George, the man, has links with Cappadocia in what is now central Turkey and Lydda in what was Palestine. His parents were both from Greek noble families and they both died when he was a teenager.
He joined the Roman army and his veneration was instilled when in the year 303 Christian soldiers were to be rounded up and sacrificed to the Roman gods. George, as a much renowned soldier, objected to this and claimed to be a Christian. On April 23rd 303 George was executed by decapitation by the city walls of Nicomedia, what is now İzmit in Turkey.
The slaying of Ascalon the dragon is a purely medieval romance story. The dragon seems to be more of an analogy for marauding armies of the time and George being the saviour.
There seems to be a complete lack of recognition to the date as the whole concept of flying the cross of St George has been tarnished by the notoriety of football hooligans abroad following the national team since the 70’s and a rallying symbol for racist organisations at a similar time. Even now, and with the impending break from the European Union, the English flag seems even more derided as a racist symbol.
To celebrate the day musically here’s something from Saxon, what many people view as the quintessential English heavy metal band. Denim and Leather is the closing track on the album of the same name and was released in 1981. The title is a reference to the unofficial uniform of the heavy metal army at the time. Spin on three decades I wonder what the modern equivalent would be? Hoodies and combats? Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.