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Cry God for Harry, England and St George
Our patron saint must be the most successful immigrant who never came to these shores. Born in the third century in what is now Turkey, St George was a Christian, who later moved to Palestine, became a Roman soldier and was tortured and beheaded for his Christian faith.
St George and the Dragon (image courtesy of wikipedia)
Although he never visited England, it is believed that the story of St George and the Dragon was brought here with the returning Crusaders; by 1222 his tale was so well known that the Bishops of the Oxford Synod declared 23 April a public holiday. By the time of the Battle of Agincourt, in 1415, the festival was as popular as Christmas. St George's Day is now also firmly associated with Shakespeare, partly because our national poet is reputed to have been born on the same date, but also because of the famous speech in Henry V when the king rallies his troops, on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, to 'Cry "God for Harry, England, and St George!"' This is how Olivier delivered it as a rallying cry during World War II.
With typical English restraint we don't wear green clothing (like the Irish), nor do we wear daffodils (like the Welsh), or even down the amber nectar like our Australian cousins. And it's too damned cold to light the barbecues in the manner of other former colonials like the Americans. If we're lucky the weather might pick up by 23 April, otherwise we might just have to be our usual hardy selves when celebrating our national saint's day in Trafalgar Square on 20 April.
The Mayor of London's celebrations will include traditional food and drink, a banqueting area, food workshops and cookery demonstrations. There will also be live entertainment to get you in the mood, force you to drop your traditional English reserve and celebrate the life and death of a martyred Christian Turk who never saw England's green and pleasant land.