Did you know what April 23rd represents? Do you know what flower symbolises today? Do you celebrate? Do the school children get taught anything about today?
April 23rd is St George’s Day
What does it mean to you? Americans celebrate July 4th with fireworks and special meals, Ireland and Scotland both have public holidays. They wave their flags with pride and have a party atmosphere.
Yet here in England few celebrate and many have no idea of who St George is. I teach identity as part of the sociology A Level and it surprises me that many see ethnicity identity as something that belongs to others and not to themselves. Ethnicity is defined in the dictionary as ‘The fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition’ yet here in England many believe an ethnic identity is what others have, often based on skin colour rather than national and cultural traditions.
Our identity is made up of many factors including ethnicity, gender, age, and social class. In discussions with my sixth formers it is always interesting to have a discussion on what makes someone English? What are our cultural traditions and many find this really difficult to identify. The symbols often revolve around food or religion but little else.
However it seems that in England being patriotic and celebrating St George’s day somehow got mixed in with racism, supremacy and and BNP / extreme party politics. This saddens me so much. Think of St George’s flag and often connotations link with football hooligans or extreme political beliefs. Today’s article in the Telegraph looks at the findings from a new survey revealing that how the English flag is seen as symbol of racism.
There seems to be a growing optimism about Britain with cool Brtiannia flying the flag ahead of the Olympics. The shops are full of British pride, the Union Jack is adorned on many of this seasons hottest products (even one of the apprentice teams had ago with their shabby chic furniture!!). Yet to celebrate being English is not such a comfortable feeling. The Welsh, Irish and Scots seem much happier to celebrate their individual national identity England shy’s away from this for the fear of being seen as racist.
St George is the Patron for Scouting and for the first time my son’s primary school are encouraging the children who are in uniformed clubs to wear their uniforms to school. I think this is great and will teach the children some good messages.
Maybe the issue goes back to choosing the wrong saint and this is where the wrong connations came from. St George was not a Christian of peace but a armed warrior famous for being ruthless. Just maybe the wrong person was picked in the beginning!
My question today is do you celebrate St George’s day and how do you feel about it. Many believe that it should be a national holiday like in Ireland and Scotland. Does the day mean anything to you?