St George's Day
St George's Day 2010 - 18
A child holds an English flag and wears a hat of the same design during a Saint George's Day celebration in 2010.
Observed by Nations of which St George is the patron saint
Type National day of England and Georgia
Date April 23, May 6, November 23
Observances Flying of the St George's Cross
Related to Feast of Saint George

Saint George's Day is celebrated by several nations, kingdoms, countries, and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint, including England, Germany, the old kingdoms and counties of the Crown of Aragon in Spain (Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia); Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo and the cities of Moscow in Russia, Genova in Italy, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta, amongst other places.

St. George's Day is known as the Feast of Saint George by Palestinians and is celebrated in the Monastery of St. George in al-Khader, near Bethlehem. It is also known as Georgemas.[1]

For England, St. George's Day also marks its National Day. Most countries which observe St. George's Day celebrate it on April 23, the traditionally accepted date of Saint George's death in 303 A.D. St. George's Day is a provincial government holiday in Newfoundland, Canada.

For those Eastern Orthodox Churches that follow the Julian Calendar (the Old calendarists), the April 23 (Julian Calendar) date of St George's Day falls on May 6 of the Gregorian Calendar in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Besides the April 23 feast, some Orthodox Churches have additional feasts dedicated to St George. The country of Georgia celebrates the feast St George on November 10 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on November 23 (Gregorian Calendar). The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the dedication of the Church of St George in Kiev by Yaroslav I the Wise in 1051 on November 26 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on the Gregorian December 9.

The Scout movement has been celebrating St. George's Day on April 23 since its first years, and St. George is the patron saint of many other organizations.

In the General Calendar of the Roman Rite the feast of Saint George is on April 23. In the Tridentine Calendar it was given the rank of "Semidouble." In Pope Pius XII's 1955 calendar this rank is reduced to "Simple." In Pope John XXIII's 1960 calendar the celebration to just a "Commemoration." In Pope Paul VI's 1969 calendar it is raised to the level of an optional "Memorial." In some countries, such as England, the rank is higher.

St George's feast is ranked higher in England and in certain other regions. It is the second most important National Feast in Catalonia, where the day is known in Catalan as La Diada de Sant Jordi and it is traditional to give a rose and a book to a loved one. This tradition inspired UNESCO to declare this the International Day of the Book, since April 23, 1616 was also the date of death of both the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar) and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes (according to the Gregorian calendar).

In Catholic and Protestant countries


St George's Day in Gravesend, Kent b

Saint George's Day celebration in Gravesend, Kent, England in 2011.

St George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century.[2] However, this tradition had waned by the end of the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland.[3] In recent years the popularity of St George's Day appears to be increasing gradually. BBC Radio 3 had a full programme of St George's Day events in 2006, and Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, has been putting the argument forward in the House of Commons to make St George's Day a public holiday. Although Saint George is the Patron Saint of England, it is believed that St George was not English and it is not certain that he ever visited England, although legend has it that St George was born in Coventry at Caludon Castle in Wyken,[4] though some say he was born in Cappadocia, an area which is now in Turkey.

A traditional custom at this time was to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though with changes in fashion this is no longer common. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on April 23 festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. However, the modern association of the St George's Cross with sports such as football, cricket and rugby means that this tradition is rare outside this context. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it.

There is a growing reaction to the recent indifference to St George's Day. Organizations such as English Heritage, and the Royal Society of Saint George (a non-political English national society founded in 1894) have been joined by the more prominent St George's Day Events company (founded in 2002), with the specific aim of encouraging celebrations. They seem to be having some effect. On the other hand, there have also been calls to replace St George as patron saint of England, on the grounds that he was an obscure figure who had no direct connection with the country. However there is no obvious consensus as to whom to replace him with, though names suggested include St. Edmund,[5] St. Cuthbert, or St. Alban, with the latter having topped a BBC Radio 4 poll on the subject.[6]


Scouts parade in Somerset, England on Saint George's Day, 2010.

In early 2009 Mayor of London Boris Johnson spearheaded a campaign to encourage the celebration of St George's Day.

Saint George is also the patron saint of the Scouting movement. Many Scout troops in the United Kingdom take part in a St George's Day Parade on the nearest Sunday to April 23. A message from the Chief Scout is read out and the Scout Hymn is sung. A "renewal of promise" then takes place where the Scouts renew the Scout's Promise made at joining. St George's Day is traditionally the occasion when the Queen announces new appointments to the Order of the Garter.


St George's Day is celebrated throughout Lebanon, but especially in towns and villages where churches dedicated to St Georges have been erected.


Saint George is the patron saint of some Spanish towns and cities, mainly belonging to the territories added to the old kingdoms of Castille, Leon and Aragon in the historic period of the Reconquista.. Alcoy is one example of a town, where Saint George's day is commemorated as a thanksgiving celebration for the proclaimed aid the saint provided to the Christians troops fighting the Muslims in the siege of the city. Citizens commemorate the day with a festival where thousand of people parade dressed in Medieval costumes, forming two "armies" of Moors and Christians. A re-enactment battle takes place including music and fireworks.

Cáceres is a town in western Spain whose patron saint has been Saint George since 1229 A.D. Celebration of Saint George's day in the town is strongly centered in the world of legends and the fantasy. There is also a re-enactment parade featuring moors and Christians, but the core of the commemoration is the dragon and the battle in which the holy heroic knight slayed the evil beast..


060423 SantJordi01

A rose stall in Barcelona on Saint George's Day 2006.

St Jordi's cake

A Catalan Sant Jordi cake.

La Diada de Sant Jordi, also known as el dia de la rosa (The Day of the Rose) or el dia del llibre (The Day of the Book) is a Catalan holiday celebrated on April 23 similar to St. Valentine's Day with some unique twists that show the ancient practice of this day. The main event is the exchange of gifts between sweethearts, loved ones and respected ones. Historically, men gave women roses, and women gave men a book to celebrate the occasion—"a rose for love and a book forever." In modern times, the mutual exchange of books is customary. Roses have been associated with this day since medieval times, but the giving of books is a more recent tradition. In 1923, a bookseller started to promote the holiday as a way to honour the nearly simultaneous deaths of Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare on April 23, 1616. Barcelona is the publishing capital in both Catalan and Spanish and this heady one-two punch of love and literacy was quickly adopted.

On Barcelona's most visited street, La Rambla, and all over Catalonia, thousands of stands of roses and makeshift bookstalls are hastily set up for the occasion. By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books would have been purchased in the name of love. You will be hard-pressed to find a woman without a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.

The sardana, the national dance of Catalonia, will be performed throughout the day in the Plaça Sant Jaume. And many book stores and cafes host readings by noted authors (look out for 24-hour marathon readings of Cervantes' Don Quixote). And there will be a variety of street performers and musicians on hand to add a romantic ambience to nearly every public square and plaza.

Catalonia has exported this tradition of the book and the rose to the rest of the world. In 1995, UNESCO adopted April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.

In Orthodox countries

If St. George's Day (or any saint's day) falls during Lent or on Easter Day it is observed on Easter Monday.


Georgians call St. George's Day Giorgoba. It is celebrated every year on 23 November (November 10 on the Julian Calendar). It is a very important day for Georgians, schools and universities are closed, many people eat traditional Georgian food and go to church.



Roast lamb, a traditional Saint George's Day dish in Bulgaria.

Possibly the most celebrated name day in the country, St George's Day (Гергьовден, Gergyovden) is a public holiday that takes place on 6 May each year. A common ritual is to prepare and eat a whole lamb, which is an ancient practice possibly related to Slavic pagan sacrificial traditions and the fact that St. George is the patron saint of shepherds.

St. George's Day is also the Day of the Bulgarian Army, made official with a decree of Knyaz Alexander of Bulgaria on 9 January 1880. Parades are organised in the capital Sofia to present the best of the army's equipment and manpower.


In Serbian St. George's Day is called Đurđevdan (Cyrillic: Ђурђевдан) and is celebrated on 6 May every year, as the Serbian Orthodox Church uses the Julian, Old Style Calendar. St. George's Day is one of the most common Slavas (family patron day) among the Serbs, celebrated not only in Serbia, but also in Montenegro, Republika Srpska and other Serbian lands. Đurđevdan is also celebrated by both Orthodox and Muslim Roma and Muslim Gorani. Đurđevdan is celebrated, especially, in the areas of Raška in Serbia. Apart from being the Slava of many families, St. George's Day is marked by morning picnics, music, and folk dances.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Bosnia and Herzegovina St. George's Day is also called Đurđevdan and is celebrated by Bosnian Serbs and Roma (both Orthodox and Muslim), but also has been celebrated by the other ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Đurđevdan's widespread appeal can be seen in the folk song Đurđevdan popularised by Bijelo Dugme as well as Meša Selimovićs novel Death and the Dervish.


S.George (18th c., Palekh museum)

Russian icon of Saint George.

Russian Orthodox Church, which uses Julian Calendar, has two important feasts of Saint George. Besides the April 23 (which falls on May 6 of Gregorian Calendar) feast, common for all Christendom, Russians also celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Church of St George in Kiev by Yaroslav I the Wise (1051) of November 26 (Julian Calendar), which currently falls on December 9. One of the Russian forms of the name George being Yuri, the two feasts are popularly known as Vesenniy Yuriev Den (Yuri's Day in the Spring) and Osenniy Yuriev Den (Yuri's Day in the Fall).

References in literature

In the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, evil things are said to occur on St. George's Day, beginning at midnight. It should however be noted that the date of St. George's Day presented in the book, May 5 (on the Western, i.e. Gregorian Calendar), is St. George's Day observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church (i.e., April 23 of the Julian Calendar, the difference between Gregorian and Julian calendars being 12 days in 1897, one day less than it is in 20th-21st centuries).

(Excerpt from Dracula, 1897) "Do you know what day it is?" I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: "Oh, yes! I know that, I know that! but do you know what day it is?" On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: "It is the eve of St George's Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?"


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Saint George's Day. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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