St George’s Day is a time to celebrate the patron saint of England. It’s a super excuse to enjoy or learn about some of England’s customs and traditions, and also to think about knights, castles, and dragons!
For England, St. George’s Day also marks its National Day. Many countries that 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 was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century. However, this tradition had waned by the end of the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland.
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.
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Ten Facts about St George’s Day
- St George is the patron saint of England. 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.
- It is believed his father, a soldier in the Roman army, was from Cappadocia, now in modern-day Turkey, and his mother from Lydda, now Israeli Lod.
- George joined the military. His career, and life, was ended by the emperor Diocletian when he protested against the persecution of the Christians. He was entombed in Palestine, where he had lived with his mother after his father’s death.
- Around 1,000 years later, England, whose crusaders had heard the story of St George in the Holy Land, ditched Edward the Confessor for a new patron saint and, in 1415 made April 23 a national feast day.
- George was seen as a defender of the Christian faith. He is most famous for the story of his fight against the dragon.
- His militaristic and noble Christianity did not just appeal to the Medieval English. George is the patron saint of Portugal, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, soldiers, and – less obviously – skin diseases and syphilis.
- In Barcelona, where Jordi (his local name) is the patron saint of Catalonia, women traditionally give their male lovers a book and, in return, receive a rose.
- Some want to see St George’s Day made a national holiday marked with greater ceremony and have it made a public holiday.
- This is the best time of year for harvesting St George mushrooms.
- It is customary for the hymn “Jerusalem” to be sung in cathedrals, churches, and chapels on St George’s Day, or the Sunday closest to it.
Things to do on St George’s Day
- Do some Dragon theme art and crafts.
- Have an English tea party! Bake a Victoria Sponge, and serve with cucumber sandwiches and scones, strawberry jam, and cream!
- Paint your faces white with a red cross.
- Buy or make that English standby meal, fish and chips. Or set up your own pretend fish and chip shop at home. Get your kids to design their own menu!
- The summer in England is all about Wimbledon tennis! So get your little ones playing either at local lessons or start them off yourself by providing a ball and racquet for them to try…
- Make paper roses to wear on your shirt
For more information and things to do, take a look at the following links:
- St George’s Day Events
- St George’s Day website
- St George’s Day colouring pages
- St George’s Day printables
- Traditional English recipes
Make a St George’s Day Shield
Using a shield template and some paper scraps, we’ve made a super shield to use as dress up for St George’s Day. You will need:
- A shield shape, wooden or cardboard cut out (our wooden shield was bought at a castle in Wales and is made by www.historictoys.co.uk)
- a few sheets of white paper
- a sheet of red paper
- PVA glue (water it down in a small bowl )
- paintbrushes for glue
- ruler and pencil
- printed Tudor rose
What to do:
- Mark out the cross shape on the shield template
- Tear white paper into pieces
- Glue the white areas of the shield with torn paper shapes and a generous layer of PVA glue mixture
- Cut a strip of red paper for each arm of the cross
- Glue the red cross onto the shield
- Cut out the rose you printed and stick it in the centre of the cross where the 4 arms meet.
- Cover the entire shield in a generous layer of PVA mixture to seal it
- Leave it to dry
I am a preschool and primary school teacher and mum to 3 children. I have been involved in education since 1997 and have trained in a variety of educational specialist areas. It is with this expertise that I write articles to help parents and educators provide quality learning experiences for the children in their care.