FRIDAY, APRIL 23: Depictions of dragon slaying may not be as popular as they once were, considering Hollywood’s latest animated movie, “How to Tame Your Dragon.” But the imagery will crop up, once again, on St. George’s Day. The holiday is known in the U.S. but major celebrations are in the UK, where some English citizens are actively campaigning to make this saint’s day an official bank holiday. (StGeorgesDay.com recently drew more than 1 million voters and celebrity figures supporting the idea of declaring St. George’s Day the official saint holiday of England. Another site, StGeorgesholiday, is promoting this concept, too.) Although it isn’t an official bank holiday yet, celebrations are numerous: London holds many free events, parades, food festivals, theatrical events and more in honor of St. George’s Day. (Activity Village has St. George coloring sheets and crafts for kids, too.)
St. George was a soldier under Roman Emperor Diocletian. However, the emperor was a pagan who persecuted Christians. When George eventually revealed his faith, he went from favored by the emperor—to martyr. Down through the centuries, dragon slaying and other heroic deeds were added to his courageous life story. (Get more details on the Wikipedia page for St. George’s Day.)
In Catalonia, Spain, St. George’s Day is celebrated similarly to the American St. Valentine’s Day. According to the Julian calendar, William Shakespeare died on this day, and according to the Gregorian calendar, Miguel del Cervantes died today; it is tradition for men to give women roses and for women to give men a book in return. By end-of-day, 4 million roses and hundreds of thousands of books are typically exchanged in this rite of love. Barcelona’s principal government building is open today and features enormous displays of roses, created to honor St. George.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)