23 Apr 2010
ST. GEORGE'S DAY.
Always portrayed as a knight, generally astride a horse and carrying a shield with a white cross on it, LEGEND has it that Saint George fought a dragon - the dragon, of course, commonly representing the devil during medieval times. But what of the REAL GEORGE?
Believed to have been born anywhere from 270 to 281 A.D., George was not of English birth at all but Turkish. Born to Christian parents, he became a Roman soldier who it is said protested against the Roman's torture of Christians and died for his beliefs.
With much of his popularity stemming from the time of the early CRUSADES, George's emblem, a red cross on a white background (now the English flag as well as part of the BRITISH FLAG or, as it is sometimes better known, The Union Jack), was adopted by RICHARD THE LION HEART and brought to England in the 12th century where soldiers wore it in battle to avoid confusion.
Now PATRON SAINT OF many countries, professions, organisations and disease sufferers, here in England, St. George's Day, an unofficial bank holiday, is celebrated on the 23rd of April though surveys reveal that approximately one in five people do not know this.
In fact, much to the disgust of many an organisation CAMPAIGNING FOR St. George's Day to be much more widely recognised, you are more likely to see big St. Patrick's Day parades celebrating Ireland's National Day then you are to see St. George's Day parades as for most people in England this is just another ordinary working day.
Not so in the past when celebrations would include MUMMERS PLAYS which were basically a seasonal play performed by troupes of actors known as mummers (performers in disguise) who would typically go from house to house, visiting public houses (pubs, inns etc) as they went.
Commonly performed throughout most of Great Britain and Ireland as well as other English-speaking parts of the world (including Kentucky in the USA), Mummers plays were usually comic performances, generally based on the theme of resurrection and involving a fight between good (George) and evil (the dragon).