The St. George's Day Pageant through the streets of London
23.04.2010 - 23.04.2010 15 °C
At some point back in the 3rd century in what is now modern day Libya, there was a well guarded by a dragon. The well being the only source of water for a nearby town, the villagers used to bring a goat round each morning to draw out the dragon, distracting him long enough to get water for the day. Then the village ran out of goats, so they started sacrificing virgins. The virgins were selected by a lottery drawing every morning.
One morning, the lottery drew the king’s daughter. The King tried to buy off the people with all his gold, but being in the desert the folks valued water more than gold. Luckily for the princess, a Christian warrior happened to be in the area. He slew the dragon, saved the princess and got all the locals to convert to Christianity.
The slayer was canonized in 494 by Pope Gelasius I, and afterward was known as St. George.
Most modern historians don’t believe that the dragon slaying story is real, the reason most strongly given being that dragons are fictional, however most believe that the man credited with the slaying was in fact a real person. George was a Roman soldier who was executed for refusing to renounce Christianity.
St. George is the patron saint of England, among a number of other places. The feast of Saint George is celebrated on April 23rd, and as the patron saint of England, April 23rd is the national day of England.
Strangely, for a city that goes all out to celebrate the national days of Canada, Australia, America and Ireland, London (and for the most part the rest of England) puts on a pretty muted observation for their National Day. It isn’t a national holiday, and many of the English people I have met don’t even remember what day it is.
However, this year a tradition that hasn’t taken place for 425 years was revived. The St. George’s Day Pageant, which sees a parade through the streets of the city of London. In addition to some soldiers and bands, the parade includes the King, his daughter and St. George himself.
April 23rd is also the birthday of William Shakespeare, who wrote the play Henry V, which includes the line, "Upon this charge, cry 'God for Harry, England and Saint George!"
After the parade, I headed to a nearby pub, where I had a pint and pie. Nothing more English than that, is there?
A pint, a pie for Elizabeth the second, England and Saint George!