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Feast of Saint George

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Feast of Saint George
Observed by Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Bethlehem-area
Type Popular feast day
Significance Requests from Saint George or al-Khadr for protection.
Date 5 May-6 May
Observances ritual animal sacrifice, children's baptism, offering of meat to others
Related to St George's Day

The Feast of Saint George (also spelled al-Khadr) is a Palestinian holiday commemorating Saint George (known as al-Khadr in Palestinian culture). The feast occurs annually on 5 May, and although it is originally a local Christian holiday, both Palestinian Christians and Muslims participate. The feast is held in the Palestinian town of al-Khader, just south of Bethlehem.[1]


Palestinian folklore suggests that the feast originated during the Byzantine rule of Palestine. According to the folktale,

"the feast came and the young men stood together making their vows. One said, 'I will give a goat,' another 'I will give a sheep.' Then Jirjis, the son of a widow, desired to offer something. They had but one cow. Then he said, 'I will sacrifice a cow,' and he went and killed the cow." At evening time his mother called to him and said, 'Where is the cow?' He said, 'I gave it to El Khadr. (St. George)' His mother said, 'You have cut our lives. Let me not see your face again.' That night, the young man had a vision. A white haired man appeared to him and said, 'Fear not, I am El Khadr: thou shalt go to Constantinople and to the king’s palace. Only each day thou shalt call a blessing upon me.' ...[2]

Religious traditions


Previously, the feast attracted Arabs from throughout Palestine to visit the Monastery of Saint George and trade loaves of bread, make sacrifices they vow to fulfill and gather for picnics under the olive trees surrounding the monastery.

The same tradition continues today, with many Christian pilgrims coming to give sacrifices and baptize their children, due to the abundance stories about the healing properties of the St. George. Noteworthy, the Feast of St. George is one of the rare Christian rituals where an animal is sacrificed within the monastery. The most common animal slaughtered is the sheep.[3] On the morning of 6 May, Greek Orthodox Christians from Beit Jala, Bethlehem and Beit Sahour would march in a procession to the monastery.[1]


Traditionally, Muslims guard the entrance of the church and welcome pilgrims. As the Christians, the Muslims too sacrifice sheep during the feast and offerings are stored in a sheep pen in the garden of the monastery. In Islam, two sacrifices are offered: The first is the dhabihah, which requires that one-third of the immolated lamb be set aside for consumption by its owner, while the remaining two-thirds are for Allah and given as charity. The second offering is that of a live animal, bequeathed as a gift to St. George.[3]

Muslim signs dot the courtyard of the monastery and traces of the sacrifices are evident in the form of the lamb hides left on the balustrades to dry.[3]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 St. George's Feast Centre for the Cultural and Historical Preservation of Palestine.
  2. A tale of Al Khader Crowfoot, Grace M. Sheldon Press: London. 1932.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Qleibo, Ali. El-Khader: A National Palestinian Symbol This Week in Palestine.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Feast of Saint George. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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