Did you know that the iconic flag of England is much more than just a red cross over a white background? It is actually St. George’s Cross—a symbol that is so closely intertwined with English national identity, that St. George has his own national holiday. On April 23, we celebrate the patron saint of England, who has captivated the imaginations of the British since the Crusades and the Hundred Years’ War. Perhaps the most British of all holidays, this special day is a unique opportunity to let your English flag fly, literally and figuratively. Get out the Punch and Judy dolls and grab your fish & chips—it’s St. George’s Day!
Why We Love St. George (and St. George’s Day)
A. It’s the one day we’re allowed to be unapologetically British
Despite its religions origins, in the past several decades St. George’s Day has morphed into a catch-all holiday for everything British. This day is considered a preserver of English culture. We can have a spot of tea, play polo, gorge on fish & chips, fly the English flag, and not worry about the consequences.
B. It’s celebrated all over the world—not just in England
Originally a religious feast day, St. George’s day is celebrated across religions and countries, stretching from the Middle East to Russia, Central Europe to the Iberian Peninsula.
C. Because dragons!
According to a more than 1,000-year-old legend, St. George slayed a dragon and rescued a princess when he was serving as a soldier in the Roman army. Talk about a knight in shining armour!
How to Celebrate St. George’s Day
1. Wear a rose on your lapel
Why a red rose? Because according to legend, after saving a princess from the infamous dragon, St. George handed her a red rose. He was the ultimate dreamboat.
2. Fly the English flag
No, not the Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom—the St. George’s Cross of England! There aren’t many opportunities to let the English flag fly these days (unless you’re a football fan), so seize the opportunity on St. George’s Day.
3. Catch a parade or fireworks display in London
Every English city has its own St. George’s Day festivities, but the main event happens in London. With its countless pubs (all flying the English flag), parades, shops, and massive fireworks display, London is the place to be on this most English of holidays.
Favorite St. George’s Day Resources
10 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Him — History Extra
Learn about the man behind the dragon.
The History of the British Flag — The Guardian
The “why?” behind the iconic red and white of the English flag.
Pub Guide — Good Pub Guide
England’s most English pubs, all in one place.