Ask a Welshman when St Davids day is, they’ll tell you proudly it’s 1st March. Ask them how they mark it and you’ll probably be told tales of leaks, daffodils, traditional costumes and dancing. Ask a Scotsman what they do for St Andrews day and you’ll be regaled with stories of kilts and bagpipes. The Irish, St Patricks day is celebrated far and wide, with pubs displaying a sea of green clovers, leprachaun hats appearing in the streets and riverdancing till the early hours.
So, I ask my English readers…Do you know when St Georges day is? I’ll tell you it’s April 23rd. Would you know that the traditional way to mark the day of the English patron saint is to wear a red rose in your button hole or rose pin on your lapel? It’s one of the only ‘national days’ celebrated outside of the country of origin too. St Georges day is recognised in England, Canada, Croatia, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Macedonia. It’s also celebrated in old kingdoms and counties of the Crown of Aragon in Spain—Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Palestine. Did you know April 23rd is both the date of Shakespeare’s birth, and death? That’s neither here nor there really, but thought it was interesting. Only 1 in 5 people even know when St Georges day is. When my mum was small, St Georges day was celebrated, roses worn on the lapel and flags hung from houses or displayed on cars. Seems a real shame this has been lost.
There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England.
Sir Winston Churchill
When Fiona first asked if we should have a ‘national day’ my initial thought was ‘of course we should!!!’ but having thought of it in more detail I just don’t think it would work. As a nation, Great Britain, is divided, at least amongst ourselves. We are very rarely British. Hell English people are very rarely English!! Maybe it’s a stiff upper lip thing. Events such as Proms in the Park are not seen as British, they’re seen as English. Rule Britania is not about Britain, it’s about England. The ‘British national anthem’ is the English National Anthem. As a girl raised in the Celtic outlands I can tell you, people here are Welsh before they are British. My friends from across the sea are Irish before they are British and those proud lads and lasses from up north? You can bet they’re Scottish before they are British! Yet many English people I know would say they are British first. Why is that?! I think as a nation England has a need to please, to be accepting of everyone and make everyone feel welcome. Being British rather than English gives you a common ground with people from 3 extra countries, rather than instantly provoking rivalry (especially Wales v England rivalry!). I’m sure English people would be more than happy to promote a national day, a day for Great Britain, the United Kingdom, together as one. But the other three? I think they’re quite happy how they are thanks! With leeks, clovers and thistles, who needs roses?