Why We Don’t Celebrate St George’s Day
After a weekend of St Paddy’s Celebrations, where every Tom, Dick and Harry has uploaded a Snap Chat story that featured some shade of green, I can’t help questioning why we don’t give St George’s Day the same recognition.
Don’t get me wrong, I was one of many who increased Barry M’s makeup sales this weekend, purchasing green eyeliner and glitter in order to decorate my face with shamrocks and get in the true Paddy’s Day spirit. I think it’s fab that cities throughout the UK decorated their streets with Irish bunting, put on a plethora of events and even took part in Irish dancing, all in celebration of this one day.
But, if we are capable of going to such lengths for Paddy’s Day – when the majority of those who celebrated aren’t even remotely Irish – why don’t we celebrate being English? Why don’t we celebrate our day?
Some would argue that St George’s Day just happens to be a day that has never been celebrated very widely. However, there appears to be a lot of mixed opinion regarding whether we should identify ourselves as ‘English’ as opposed to ‘British’ at all. On the whole, those from Ireland identify themselves as Irish, those from Wales would identify themselves as Welsh and those from Scotland would identify themselves as Scottish. So is there a problem with identifying yourself as English rather than British?
While St Andrew’s Day in Scotland and St Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland are bank holidays, St George’s Day in England remains to be just like any other day. I think this all comes down to the fact that we’re scared. We’re scared as a nation to celebrate being English incase this becomes misinterpreted as racist, or rather in case we are criticised for failing to be inclusive of the rest of Britain.
This anxiety around St George’s Day and whether it should be recognised as a national holiday here in England appears ridiculous to me at least, when considering the celebrations of Ireland and Scotland. And even the great lengths the Chinese go to, to celebrate Chinese New year, along with the Americans and their celebration of Independence Day. Back in 1415, St George’s Day was declared a national feast day and holiday in England. It grew into a huge celebration up until the 18th century when England united with Scotland, from then on however such celebrations waned.
Ultimately, this raises the question of how we would go about celebrating St George’s Day again. Our celebrations of St Paddy’s Day here in England have recently featured parades in a number of cities, so why not hold a St George’s Day parade? While the Irish drink Irish whisky and Guinness and tuck into numerous Irish delights on their national day, we could indulge in fish and chips, celebrate in traditional English pubs all over the country – while probably drinking something slightly stronger than tea.