This annual festival celebrates the patron saint of England, Saint George. Trafalgar Square will be the venue for the event, with a strong line up of performers and events set to help Londoners mark the occasion.
Saint George’s Day has traditionally been a national day of feasting, so don’t be surprised to see an array of food and drink vendors at the event or a series of live demos from some of the UK’s leading chefs.
The event has been a major celebration in England since the 15th century with fairs, feasts and lavish banquets all held in the saint’s honour.
It is Shakespeare who is said to have popularized the festival by time and again referring to the saint in his writing. Saint George appears in the collected works of the Bard no fewer than 18 times – most memorably in Henry’s rallying cry to his men in Henry V: “Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’
Trafalgar Square will be a riot of colour for the big day with the venue decked out in red and white for the special day. Indeed, the Feast is a great opportunity to take photos with colourful dancers, stilt walkers and Pearly Kings and Queens adding to the spectacle.
The historical St George was an interesting and often surprising figure. In the mythical tale, George attempts to free a princess and save the land from an evil dragon.
However, the myth was based on a real person. The real George was a Christian soldier in the Roman Empire. He was born in a place called Cappadocia in modern Turkey around 270AD.
The fearsome dragon which the historical George fought was the Roman empire and in particular its treatment of imprisoned Christians. However, George’s protests led to his downfall as the then Roman emperor, Diocletian, ordered his death for failing to renounce his faith.
In the early fourteenth century, England’s King Edward I took an interest in St George and on his orders, his troops wore the saint’s cross. Edward also flew the flag over one of his many castles. Edward’s grandson carried on the tradition. When Edward created the Knights of the Garter, he chose Saint George to be their patron saint. A few years later and George was patron saint of all England.
George is quite a popular saint, however. He’s not just the patron saint of England. He’s also the patron of Portugal and Ethiopia as well as several cities around the globe.
The dragon is clearly a work of fiction too. Dragons were a symbol of evil in the Middle Ages so George’s dragon may well have represented mortality or bad spirits.
The Feast of St George 2019 takes place on the 20th of April 2019.
For more information on the event, please click here.
For information on other festivals in London, please click here.