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St George's Day 2020: Who was England's patron saint?

This year's celebrations will be a little different amid the coronavirus lockdown

A

nother year has flown by and St George's Day is back upon us.

The national day is acknowledged by many Christian churches and is dedicated to St George, the patron saint of England.

This springtime celebration is the perfect opportunity for us to mark all things English, and we all know this means more than afternoon tea, Morris dancing and the Royal Family.

We might be in the middle of a nationwide lockdown, but nothing's stopping you from toasting England's patron saint from the comfort of your home.

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

When is St George's Day?

The Church of England confirmed that the feast of St George will be commemorated on Thursday, April 23.

It comes after it was postponed by six days last year due to falling during the Easter break.

All major St George's Day events this year have been cancelled, including the main Nottingham pageant that usually attracts crowds of 20,000.

Instead, Brits have been urged to fly an England flag in their homes if they want to remember England's patron saint.

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?

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.

PA Archive/PA Images

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.

PA Archive/PA Images

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.