Posted on April 23, 2009

By George, England Set to Celebrate

Ananova (Leeds), April 23, 2009

Civic and church leaders have joined calls for greater emphasis to be placed on the patron saint of England’s special day.

Legends such as the story of St George triumphing over evil by slaying the dragon have not vanished in the mists of time.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has suggested a public holiday to mark the patron saint’s day could help promote unity.

But a reluctance among many English people to display too much patriotism and the perceived difficulties of aligning national pride with the concept of a “United Kingdom” has pushed St George’s Day on to the sidelines.

Compared with the excitement and fun associated with the saints days of Wales, Scotland and Ireland, England’s moment has been far more subdued in recent years.

This year, however, a conscious effort is being made to make more of April 23.

After declaring that St George’s Day had been “ignored” for too long, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced a series of free events in the capital and will fly the English flag outside City Hall.

Mr Johnson will travel in a double-decker bus from City Hall to Leadenhall Market in the City to join in traditional English festivities ahead of a music concert in Trafalgar Square on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the capital, English armoured and mounted knights will take part in a medieval battle at Old Spitalfields Market. In addition, sporting celebrities including Sir Geoff Hurst and Austin Healey will attend the Bombardier-sponsored St George’s Day Long Lunch in the City.

Events will also be held in other parts of England. Primary school pupils will celebrate St George’s Day with the Archbishop of York at Bishopthorpe Palace.