If you ever find yourself on the streets of London during the latter days of April, then you’ll be one of the fortunate souls to have the privilege of experiencing a most-awaited day in England: the Feast of St. George.
Around the world, the annual commemoration of the death of St. George every 23rd of April is a day for celebrating courage, selflessness, and faith; but for the English, it is a rare occasion to remember England’s proud past. St. George’s Day is celebrated across England with cultural events, symbolic parades, religious gatherings, and sumptuous feasts.
Over 1,700 years after his death, St. George continues to inspire millions through stories of his legendary courage and faith. He is pictured as a dragon-slaying hero of the poor who upheld the triumph of good over evil. Catholics revere him as a loyal servant of the Lord who was beheaded by the Romans for refusing to renounce his faith.
For his martyrdom, he was declared a saint and had been the spiritual patron of knights and crusaders as they fought to defend Christianity. Over the years, the symbol of St. George – the pennant or flag with red cross on a white background – became the emblem for English soldiers who recognized him as their patron saint. The same symbol is now part of England’s national flag.
A Pleasant Experience
Replete with customs and tradition, the English celebration of the Feast of St. George is always a pleasant experience to a discerning tourist. Along the streets of London – around Trafalgar Square, festive singing from a live band sets the mood to a day of collective enjoyment. A parade not too lavish but nonetheless impressive marches through the main streets that leaves children shrieking with excitement. A well-attended food festival showcases the best of English culinary and gives a taste of heaven for food enthusiasts. And the ever popular English farmer’s market attracts a crowd scouting for best buys. But the oldest traditional practice that is unique to the Feast of St. George is the wearing of a red rose in the button hole or lapel to symbolize one’s patriotism.
To cap the celebrations, British households prepare a sumptuous supper for the family and guests. The Feast of St. George is usually taken as an opportunity to indulge on food traditionally loved by royalties and served as a special treat to esteemed guests.
Customarily served as a starter is the Old English Summer Soup, or for a modern twist, there’s the Stilton Soup with Parmesan Croutons. The usual centerpiece of the feast is the ever impressive roast beef laden with mustard Yorkshires. This is complemented with a Pork Pie which is a divine combination of plain pork meat, bacon, sage, and other spices baked to a mound and served hot.