April 23, 2013
St. George’s Day
St. George’s Day is provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, observed on the Monday nearest April 23rd.
In Newfoundland and Labrador the holiday was born out of our sectarian history. The Roman Catholic’s of this place laid claim to St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland and the Protestants laid claim to St. George, Patron of England.
As a saint, or even a historical person, St. George and his exploits are of doubtful authenticity, the most popular of the legends that have grown up around him relates to his encounter with the dragon. A pagan town in Libya was victimized by a dragon (representing the devil), which the inhabitants first attempted to calm down by offerings of sheep, and then by the sacrifice of various members of their community. The daughter of the king (representing the Church) was chosen by lot and was taken out to await the coming of the monster, but George arrived, killed the dragon, and converted the community to Christianity.
Saint George has been adopted world wide as the saint fighting the evil and defending the good, in the end slaying the dragon (representing the evil).
King Richard I of England placed his crusading army under St. George’s protection, and in 1222 his feast was proclaimed a holiday. As the patron of England – it was only a matter of time that his patronage would also cover the New found land with the arrival of our English ancestors.
In Newfoundland and Labrador the tradition of St. George is not only confined to his feast day (April 23) but he also presents as one of the characters in the old mummering plays, historically performed over the Christmas season. In the mummering play he fights hand-to-hand with a Turkish Knight emerging as the hero.
In 1497, during the reign of Henry VII, the pennant of the Cross of St. George was flown by John Cabot when he sailed to Newfoundland. It was also traditional to wear a red rose on the lapel on St. George’s Day.
Interesting that St. George is the Patron of England, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Gozo, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, and Portugal but only Newfoundland and Labrador honour the day with a holiday.
A great place to live!
The most widely recognized St George’s Day symbol is St George’s cross. This is a red cross on a white background, which is often displayed as a flag. It is used as England’s national flag, forming part of the Union Flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Recommended Website: St George’s Day.com the website offering information on all things English, that celebrates English Heritage and actively promotes St George’s Day on the 23rd April. http://www.stgeorgesday.com/