Sunday, April 23, 2006

St George's Day

It is St George’s Day today. St George is the patron saint of England. His emblem is a red cross on a white background, which forms part of our British flag. Every country in the United Kingdom has its own patron saint and emblems.

This is why it surprises me that when I wrote the story of St George and the dragon as part of a homework book that was to be sold direct to schools, the editors would not put the word saint in the story because it might upset the parents at multi-cultural faith schools.

Looking at the children’s books in books shops and the library I noticed the titles rarely include the saint part. Have a look on Amazon for yourself. Are we the only country that belittles their own culture, myths and legends for fear of upsetting people?

I do not think it is politically incorrect to teach children about their own saint and name him as a saint. In fact, you are more likely to see celebrations for the Irish St Patrick’s Day in England, with events in pubs and cards being sold in shops, than you are for St George’s Day. For most people St George’s Day goes past unnoticed. You may see a flag on top of the local church.

It should be remembered, Saint George is not only the patron saint of England but he is also patron saint of Palestine, Portugal and Lithuania and many other places. He was born in Turkey in the third century and became a Roman soldier, but protested against their torture of Christians and died for his beliefs. It is very unlikely he ever visited England and even more unlikely he slayed a dragon.

Even so, he was declared England’s patron saint in the fourteenth century and April the 23rd became his national feast day. I believe, as he is our saint, more should be made of the fact in children’s literature and within our schools. But this is just my humble opinion. What do you think?

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