It came and went without me even getting to inquire about the day, let alone celebrate. (That pesky work schedule again).
Long story short: today is St. George's Day in the UK. Exactly what is it, though?
Little is known for certain about the saint's life, but he is thought to have been a soldier of the Roman Empire from Cappadocia, in present-day Turkey, who was executed after refusing to persecute Christians. The story of him slaying a dragon that was terrorizing a village has been circulating since the Middle Ages. He is the patron saint of several countries — including Germany, Portugal and Georgia, which is named for him — as well as the city of Beirut and the Boy Scout movement.
St. George's popularity spread from the Middle East to Europe with knights returning from the Crusades, and he came to be regarded as a protector of English troops. In 1222 religious leaders in England — which was then Roman Catholic — declared a holiday in his honor, and by the end of the 14th century he was seen as England's patron saint.
So there is the history, but what exactly happens on this day in England (which is different than the UK, in case you had to ask). While April 23rd is St. George's Day, England's national day, it's not a public holiday. For decades it passed largely unnoticed — a far cry from its rowdy Irish counterpart, St. Patrick's Day.
Londoners gathered Wednesday in Trafalgar Square, beneath statues of imperial lions and military heroes, to celebrate England's patron saint — a third-century Turkish soldier who supposedly had the power to slay a dragon but likely never set foot in Britain.
OK....a patron saint that is not English...no wonder the holiday is having trouble taking root.