Our National Day

This is a re-post from last year. Not only for the benefit of my many new followers, but also to remind us that we no longer celebrate our National Day, in England. We live in a world where so many seemingly pointless ‘Days’ are enthusiastically celebrated; from ‘Stroke A Pet Day’, to ‘Eat Some Chocolate Day’, and many others beloved of the Facebook Generation. Yet some acknowledgement of the long-standing tradition of the 23rd of April is hard to find.

St George’s Day

Today is the 23rd April. That date may have little or no significance to most people, and will pass just like any other day, with little or no fuss. But in England at least, it should count for something different. It is our National Day, though you would be forgiven for not knowing that fact.

Unlike Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, England does little to celebrate its patron saint, or the day named after him. More fuss is made of the fact that it is Shakespeare’s birthday, and the TV companies are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the works of the Bard of Avon. Nothing wrong with that of course, but how about poor old Saint George, and England as a separate nation?

If you were in Ireland (or almost anywhere else) on the 17th March, you could never be unaware that it is Saint Patrick’s Day. ‘The wearing of the green’, some crazy outfits, pubs and bars serving green beer, and many other celebrations, would all bring home the fact that Ireland’s Saint’s Day is celebrated wherever the Irish have a connection.

On 1st March, if you were Welsh, you might well be wearing a leek, listening to the songs of Druids, or watching a male voice choir singing ‘Men of Harlech.’ One thing’s for sure, you would know that it was Saint David’s Day, and no doubt be proud of your Welsh heritage, and separate nationality within the UK. Later in the year, on the 30th of November, Scotland joins in, with Saint Andrew’s Day. Scottish flags flying proudly, special meals, kilts and bagpipes in evidence all over. And since 2006, it is a public holiday in Scotland too.

So what happened in England? Did we just stop caring, or has it all been forgotten? There are some parades, but they are small ones. Some buildings fly the red and white flag of Saint George, but most don’t bother. It is not a public holiday, and very few young people even know that it exists. There is a small website campaigning to get better recognition, but you would be hard pressed to find it mentioned in the mainstream media, let alone celebrated in style. In central London, Trafalgar Square hosts a gathering of Morris Dancers, and a promotion of English food, for the benefit of some bemused tourists to wonder what is going on. The Prime Minister has issued an official message from Downing Street, and a few people are wandering about dressed in the style of 12th century Crusaders.

But we are missing the opportunity to celebrate England as a country in its own right, long before the formation of the UK, or the current union with Scotland, and the six counties of Northern Ireland. I am not a nationalist by nature, but surely we owe it to future generations to make them aware of the culture and heritage of the country that makes up such a large part of the British Isles? Has this country become so diverse, or so steeped in apathy, that such things no longer matter? I sincerely hope not.

Happy Saint George’s Day everyone, from good old England.

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54 thoughts on “Our National Day

    1. I did used to follow Charlotte a long time back, and she also followed me. Then I stopped following when she hadn’t posted anything for some time.
      Nice to see English Heritage making something of the day.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “St Andrew’s and St Patrick’s Day celebrations reflect the assertion of an identity distinct from the dominant English identity,” says Robert Ford, a lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester. “It is not clear whom the English define themselves against, or in comparison to.” I think this is probably part of the reason Pete, also Research carried out in 2013 by the think tank British Future suggested that many English people are “nervous” about celebrating St George’s Day. The poll, published by the Daily Telegraph, found that many English people are concerned that national symbols like the St George’s Cross flag may be interpreted as racist. The EDL etc has appropriated the flag and who wants to be associated with them? In spite of all that there have been several parades and celebrations in many towns and cities yesterday, perhaps though not in Beetley, our Wardley didn’t either but Newcastle certainly did.

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  2. I think all national traditions should be celebrated and welcome and they should welcome others to join in. I was in Barcelona yesterday, and St George, (Sant Jordi) is also the patron saint of Catalonia. There’s the tradition to celebrate the international day of the book (authors sign books, there are stalls in the streets selling books at discounted prices, and roses are also sold). They are trying to get it recognised by the Unesco. It’s a lovely day…
    https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/events/sant-jordi/sant-jordi-festival-barcelona.html
    I was at a book stall yesterday and we had several foreigners come, stop and ask what was happening and they seemed to love the idea (And people from other parts of the country too).
    I agree with some of the comments about the reasons for it to have become muted in England, but it’s another case of throwing out the baby with the dirty bath water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a small campaign for it to be a public holiday. If that ever happened, then we might see some better take up. With the London Marathon on the same day, I didn’t even see mention of it on the news.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I found this post very interesting, Pete. I actually thought the English did make St George’s day into a celebration. We were in Faversham, Kent this time last year and they had a big dragon slaying event at Dover Castle. They also had a play about St George and the dragon at the local pub which was lol. Maybe we were just lucky as we were doing touristy things so we came across these celebrations.

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    1. There are some things going on of course, Robbie. But you would have to go out of your way to find them, or be in the right spot, as you were last year. In general, it passes without notice, and many people do not even know the date.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know the idea will be hard to fathom but it is my opinion that if England and the rest of the world don’t start waking up, the time will come when all national identities will have been sacrificed and everybody will be forced to spend their days on their knees on rugs bowing to the East and uttering verbal nonsense while some idiot as dumb as the rest of them screams more nonsense from some tower somewhere. The “Political Correctness” Crowd will see to it.

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  5. I think I probably commented the first time you posted this and said something along the lines of remembering the lesson in primary school, the flag raised of the local church and George doing a good job on the dragon.
    Odd isn’t it that its not celebrated in the same way as other nations.
    Sadly, nowadays, I think the red cross is more likely to be linked to right wing ideologies, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the composition of the Union Jack is taught in schools any longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not being a Nationalist by nature, I do of course have some issues with ‘Patriotism’, Eddy.
      However, having to live in a Britain where it is ‘cool’ to be Irish, Scottish, (maybe not Welsh…) or ‘something else’, I feel it is time to remember about being ‘English’.
      Cheers mate, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It seems that along with patriotic Englishmen being censured by the authorities for wanting to fly England’s true flag outside their homes (the cross of St George) that celebrating his day is also fast becoming forgotten about Pete.

    Even distinguishing ourselves from the rest by saying we are English not British is a big no no these days.

    I’M ENGLISH AND PROUD OF IT!!!

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    1. Thanks, Jack. I never understood why it is so celebrated to be Irish, Scottish, or Welsh, but somehow being ‘English’ isn’t appropriate. We should retrieve our heritage from the grasp of the Far Right, and remember we are English, not British. It’s bad enough that many foreigners refer to us as ‘Brits’, so we need to reclaim our identity. The way things are going here, we may well return to being separate countries soon anyway.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yikes Pete, it completely skipped my mind this year! Dear old Google have a dragon and roses on their home page doodle, but not much more to suggest it is our National Day. I still reckon we should oust St George and revive St Edmund (not literally) after all, Georgie never even came here and maybe that’s why we have difficulty in remembering him. As for Morris dancers, give me strength! On that basis perhaps keeping quiet is best 😉
    Have a lovely National Day Pete – enjoy the sun while it lasts.

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    1. I agree that St George is something of a ‘dodgy’ patron saint for England. And the least said about Morris Dancers, the better. But we are stuck with George, and those dancers just won’t go away. We should be able to trawl up something suitably English to celebrate, and it should also be a public holiday, as it is elsewhere.
      It seems to be fashionable to not be ‘English’ these days, but I refuse to follow that trend! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete. x

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  8. Hi Pete,
    I agree, having witnessed at first hand St Patrick’s, St David’s and St Andrew’s day commemorations, I think it’s a bit of a shame that England doesn’t similarly fly the flag.
    That said the St George flag seems to have been co-opted by football fans and far right-wing parties.
    I’ve wondered whether the tyrannical aspects of the old British Empire left more modrrn England somewhat cowed and afraid to be proud of its Englishness.
    I’ve lived in all parts of the British Isles and while there’s a national pride (distinct from nationalism, although that exists too) in Wales and Scotland, in England somehow there’s just a hint of shame.
    I’m staunchly opposed to nationalism, I think perhaps it’s that undercurrent – in England the National Front and later the British National Party and the English Defence League that have tainted St George, for me at least. In Wales and Scotland the face of nationalism is far more acceptable …. or at least it’s dressed up to be so.
    Another interesting post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, HSOL. I agree that the Far Right have generally spoiled the flags and much of the old tradition, making it seem almost embarrassing to be ‘English’. Of course, I am not a Nationalist in any way politically, but I do feel a very strong English identity, in a country where division seems to be the order of things these days.
      I hope that you are feeling much better now. It is always good to see you here.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. I’m English born and bred. There’s nothing wrong with national pride, as I said as distinct from Nationalism. It is a shame we no longer have it as English folk. No better way is that summed up, I feel, as in that ‘sporting’ phrase “Anybody but England.” It seems everyone loves to hate the English including ourselves!
        I think our pride is retained in the regions, don’t you think? I’m certainly a very proud Northerner, although it’s no longer my home, and you a proud Londoner?
        Thanks for asking, I’m not great, but holding on in there for now, and hope to post soon.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. As I often say, I am a Londoner first, English second, and never British.
          That city is in my blood, but I still like to think that I am English, deep down. Regional pride is about all we have left, and in London it is not only regional, but also depends on whether you come from North or South of The Thames, then East and West of that too.
          I confess that sometimes I am embarrassed to be English, but that feeling generally surfaces when I am in a foreign country, and see the antics of some of our ‘tourists’.
          As ever, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I say I’m British first (not to be confused with that damn Britain First garbage of course 😀), then Northern English. Although English born amd bred, I’ve lived as long in other parts of Britain as I have in England itself.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Funny how we celebrate stuff…here in the US we do not celebrate Flag Day or a Constitution day but do celebrate a doc that is little more than a whining list of “bad” things….truly important stuff slides between the lines…..happy St. George’s Day…..chuq

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I absolutely agree, Pete. We should celebrate being “English” a lot more than we are doing. 🙂
        HAPPY SAINT GEORGE’S DAY to you in Beetley. Hope you had a lovely National Day! x

        Liked by 1 person

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