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When is St George's Day 2019 and is it a Bank Holiday?

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 18/04/2019 Tom Herbert
a man holding a kite © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Get ready to dust off that old England flag because St George's Day is just days away.

April 23 is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate all things English, and we all know this means more than afternoon tea, Morris dancing and the Royal Family.

Despite the fact that we're not granted a Bank Holiday, nothing's stopping you from heading out in the evening to toast England's patron saint.

So here's everything you need to know about St George's Day.

St George's Day is on April 23 (PA Archive/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited St George's Day is on April 23 (PA Archive/PA Images)

When is St George's Day?

St George's Day is always celebrated on April 23, the supposed day of his execution in 303BC.

That means this year, St George's Day will be celebrated next Tuesday.

Because it falls midweek, many celebrations will be held on the nearest weekend, which also happens to be the Easter weekend.

This includes London's Feast of St George in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, April 20.

The square will welcome a range of live music and comedy acts as well as family-friendly workshops and activities.

What is St George's Day?

St George's Day is a Christian feast day commemorating Saint George of Lydda, who was executed by the Romans on April 23 more than 1,000 years ago.

According to legend, St George was born in Cappadocia, in what is now modern day Turkey. He was a soldier in the Roman army and rose up the ranks to become a member of the Praetorian Guard for the Emperor Diocletian.

However, legend states that St George was tortured and later executed by the Romans for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. He became a martyr for early Christians, who later venerated him as a saint.

Why do we celebrate St George's Day in England?

a group of people wearing costumes: (PA Archive/PA Images) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited (PA Archive/PA Images)

St George is England's patron saint, although we share him with other places such as Catalonia, Aragon, Bulgaria, Russia and Portugal.

He was widely celebrated as a warrior saint, but it wasn't until 1348 that his position was elevated to that of a patron saint after his supposed intervention at the Battle of Crécy.

In 1415, April 23 then became a major national feast day across England. In 1552 all religious banners were abolished, except for those of St George.

The myth of Saint George became popular in the 13th century when it was published in a book called The Golden Legend.

According to the legend, George slayed a dragon and rescued a princess from being eaten. In their gratitude, the people of the town converted to Christianity.

The anniversary of his execution, on April 23, is now celebrated as England's national day.

Is St George's Day a Bank Holiday? Do we celebrate with parades?

Unfortunately, St George's Day is no longer a public holiday in England, unlike our Scottish (St Andrew's Day) and Irish (St Patrick's Day) cousins.

While it used to be observed much like Christmas, celebrations started to wane in the early 18th century.

However, there are calls for it to become a national holiday and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would give workers the day off if Labour won the next election.

Celebrations parades are held across the country. In London a free festival is held in Trafalgar Square, called the Feast of St George.

It includes live music, comedy, food stalls, face-painting, traditional rides and a Dragon’s Quest, emulating the legend of 4th century Turkish soldier St George.

Attendees can also expect Morris dancing classes, a storytelling tent about the legend of St George, and nods to British TV favourites with a Doctor Who Tardis and the Robin Reliant from beloved English sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

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