St George’s Day commemorates the life of St George, a Roman soldier and Christian martyr. St George’s Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. It is observed on the Monday closest to April 23 each year.
What Do People Do?
Many people are reminded on this day of St George’s achievements and sacrifices during his lifetime. People who have a day off work on St George’s Day enjoy it as is part of a three-day long weekend in Newfoundland and Labrador, as the day is held on a Monday. Some people take a scenic drive, while others engage in sporting activities. Many people in the province who have a day off spend time on personal hobbies and some people catch up with friends and family.
St George’s Day celebrations are not limited to Newfoundland and Labrador. Some societies, such as the Royal Society of St. George (British Columbia Branch), celebrate St George’s Day. There are also calls from groups devoted to the saint to make St George’s Day a national holiday in Canada.
St George’s Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, so it is designated as a paid holiday for government employees. School calendars in the province are set by individual school districts so those wishing to find out if St George’s Day is a school holiday should check with these districts.
St George was born sometime around the year 280 CE in what is now Turkey. He was a soldier and rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, eventually becoming a personal guard to the Emperor Diocletian. He was executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303 CE, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.
St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity.
It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings. St George is the patron saint of some places around the world, including England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, and Russia.
The most widely recognized St George’s Day symbol is St George’s cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England’s national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saint George’s cross was originally the flag of the maritime Republic of Genoa. Around 1190, the King of England started paying the Doge of Genoa to protect ships originally from the city of London and the rest of England that sailed in the Mediterranean region.