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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saint George: April 23rd - 7 Ways to Celebrate

Saint George and the Dragon by Paulo Uccello - c. 1470
Tomorrow, April 23rd, is Saint George's day! Need some ideas to celebrate Saint George's day?

Here are SEVEN ways to celebrate:

1.Wear a red rose in your lapel (or display red roses in your home).

2. Read the classic Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges.

3. Fly the Saint George's Cross flag.

4. Follow the Catalan tradition: give gifts of books (or maybe buy one for yourself) - perhaps Shakespeare's Henry V: "...The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' "(It is also Shakespeare's birth day and the anniversary of his death.)

5. Or download a FREE children's book (fully, and beautifully, illustrated) based on a book Richard Johnson's book The Seven Champions from 1596.

6. Talk about the three C's: Charity, Chivalry, and Courage with your kids.

7. Learn more...

Here is a brief history, from James Kiefer and the Society of Archbishop Justus:
George is a soldier and martyr who suffered around 303 at Lydda in Palestine. The earliest surviving record of him is a church inscription in Syria, dated about 346. Commemorations of him are numerous, early, and widespread. However, no details of his life are known. In 495 his name appears on a list of "good men, justly remembered, whose good deeds are known only to God." The best-known story about him is that he rescued a beautiful princess in Libya by killing a dragon. It should be noted that this story is unknown before the appearance in 1265 of a romance called the Golden Legend (Legendum Aureum), translated into English in 1483.

When the soldiers of the First Crusade were besieging Antioch in 1098, they had a vision of George and Demetrius (a deacon of Sirmium in Serbia, martyred under Maximian, and referred to as a "soldier of Christ," from which he was often understood to be a literal soldier) encouraging them to maintain the siege, which ultimately proved successful. Richard I ("the Lion-Heart") of England, who fought in the Holy Land in 1191-1192, placed himself and his army under George's protection, and with the return home of the Crusaders, the popularity of George in England increased greatly. Edward III founded the Order of the Garter in 1348 under his patronage, his banner (a red cross on a white field) began to be used as the English national flag in 1284, and in 1415 Henry V spoke of him to rally the troops before the battle of Agincourt ("Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, or close the wall up with our English dead. ... cry God for Harry, England, and St George!").

Saint George is the patron saint of: archers, the Boy Scouts, butchers, cavalry, chivalry, crusaders, equestrians, farmers, horsemen, horses, saddle makers, skin diseases/rashes, soldiers and places such as: Lebanon, Canada, Constantinople, England, Palestine, Portugal and Venice. See a more complete list at Catholic Culture's Liturgical Calendar pages.

Some more links:

A St. George's Day website with really thorough information about Saint George in literature, art and various traditions.
Here is a website with lots of fun printables and crafts as well as other links for Saint George's Day.
Learn more about the association between England and St. George.

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Amy said...

Thanks for compiling all of this! This saint's day has caught me with no plans! So many good ideas. I love a reason to buy a book!

Amy said...

How interesting -- we've never celebrated this holiday before! Thanks for sharing.

Kerry said...

Hi both Amy and Amy!

Hey, Amy F. - how is everyone doing at your house? You done with school for the year or still chugging along? We are still catching up from missing all that school during our travel.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I've grown up here in the US since i was 6 but my family is from England. Will be great to learn more about our Patron Saint and teach my kids too.
Joy M.

Kerry said...

Wonderful, Joy! I've never celebrated St. George's day either, but I'm trying to introduce my kids to some of the saints and the traditions that go along with them.