Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 23 - St George's Day

St George is the patron saint of England. He's not as glamorous, nor is he celebrated with quite such enthusiasm as his Irish counterpart St Patrick (who incidentally, according to legend was born in England -- but then St George was Palestinian -- go figure!), but nevertheless, this is the guy we're meant to call upon when our country is in great peril!

The story most associated with him is of course that of a dragon that lived in a lake and required a daily human sacrifice to feed upon. The King offered a large reward to anyone who could slay the dragon. Along came Georgie boy and the dragon was dead! According to legend he then preached a magnificent sermon that converted the locals to Christianity and he distributed his reward to the poor.

In reality of course, it is unlikely that George ever even came to England -- he was a high ranking soldier in the Roman arm who is said to have been beheaded in 303 AD because he would not deny his faith.

During medieval times in England the fairy tale like story of St George became very popular and his day was dedicated to him -- plays of his slaying of the dragon would be performed. The Reformation dulled these activities and then after the Second World War St George's day was seen to be a little to jingoistic to be celebrated.

While the story of St George is still a popular children's tale he is associated with military might rather than spiritual attributes like his compatriots; Patrick, Andrew and David (and his flag, a red cross on a white background, has associations with bigotry, racism and the National Front.

Despite all this St George's Day is important. It is important to have pride in the country of one's birth -- to remember the good things about England.

St George to me represents having courage and faith in the face of adversity, evil and suffering. Important aspects of life off our yoga mats.

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