While the Irish celebrate St Patrick’s day on March 17th, and Americans celebrate their independence on July 4th, the English have their own patron saint, and his day is celebrated on April 23rd.
St. George is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (Eastern Turkey) in 270 AD, his parents were Christian and he remained Christian, despite becoming a renowned Roman soldier serving a pagan emperor – Diocletian.
When the pagan Emperor Diocletian started persecuting Christians, St. George pleaded with the Emperor to spare their lives. The Emperor ignored these pleas and actually tortured St. George in an attempt to make him deny his Christian faith.
St George was beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23rd April 303 AD.
The most famous legend about St George is that he defeated a dragon in Libya that was partial to devouring maidens. This legend was concocted in the middle ages and, you might be surprised to learn, has no foundation in fact – not only had St George been dead for nine hundred years, but there are no records of dragons in Libya at that time.
As well as being the patron saint of England, St George is also the patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Prague, amongst others.
There’s another reason for Brit’s to celebrate April 23rd, it marks William Shakespeare’s birthday (1564) and also the day on which he died (1616).
And if you’re a beer drinker, the German Reinheisgebot – the Bavarian beer purity ‘law’ came into effect on St George’s Day 1516.