Today is Saint George’s day, England’s day! …..*Tumbleweed*
In most countries, their national Saint day is a reason to throw massive parties, get absolutely steaming drunk and dress up in patroitic colours whilst draped in flags. Saint Patrick’s is arguably the most famous one and is even celebrated around the whole world, not just Ireland. It was always a firm favourite with uni students back when I was studying. However, in England, we just don’t have that sense of patriotism, the vast majority of people, quite simply, just couldn’t care less. In fact, most of us don’t even know when Saint George’s day is until it arrives. This article will look at some reasons as to why we don’t celebrate it.
There’s nothing wrong with the flag itself. White background, red cross, simple, elegant, what’s not to like? (The blue, red, white one is the Union Jack – the united British flag, not England’s – I know some people outside of the UK confuse the two). Unlike places such as America, you will never see a flag outside a house unless, maybe, there is a sports event. When we do see a flag, your immediate question is something along the lines of, “is it the world cup?!”. We just don’t go in for flags. It is hugely tacky. It’s just not the done thing here. But there is more than just vulgar ugliness to it. To see a flag flying outside a home whilst no sport is on, you question why. The flag of Saint George is now commonly associated with questionable, nasty right wing parties, such as the BNP or EDL. To be associated with such a racist, ultra right wing organisation is not good and can lead to problems. To proudly fly a flag in that respect, will alienate you from others.
The English have a global reputation of being reserved and prudent. Don’t get me wrong, we can party with the best of them,we can drink ourselves into oblivion and we can be unruly, but when it comes to national pride and unity, there is a time and a place. That time and place is, usually, when the England football team are playing in big events or when there is some sort of national affair, for example, a royal wedding. The fact that Saint George’s day isn’t even a bank holiday (day off) just goes to show we don’t rate it. If it was a national holiday, we’d probably all go out down the pub, but instead, we work and let it slide past largely unnoticed. Host a Saint day at the weekend, we’ll be all over it like a rash just for an excuse to go out and drink beer or English cider until it’s flowing out our ears, but having it on a week day and being at work means we don’t care enough about doing something to mark the event.
England has a lot of history. Some of it is awe inspiring. We’ve achieved many great things. However, we have a sordid and vicious past. We have invaded other nations, taken over, colonised, killed, enslaved, reaped the benefits of others misery. There are aspects of our past which we are not proud of, to celebrate them would seem crass and wrong.
England has never been a repressed country. We have always maintained our freedom. Thus, there has never been a moral need to rally together in unity to voice our pride at being English against a rebel power. Countries throughout Europe have had problems with identity and those in power of them, America has fought us British in a fight for freedom, these things invoke a sense of national pride. We have never had that, no reason to think about it, celebrate having it, it’s just a thing we have always had and thus don’t feel the need to celebrate. Maybe we take it forgranted, but we just don’t see the need to embrace it like others who have more historical turbulence with their identity.
England is historically Christian. However, today, we have a multicultural theme hosting a wide variety of religions. That means some people don’t care about a Christian Saint as it does not fit with their beliefs and so feel no need to celebrate. Why celebrate a day of a Saint in a religion which undermines your own? Another reason is, few people in England actually subscribe to a faith at all. For those of us who have no faith, no God, no interest in these things, to celebrate a day of Christian Saints, seems pointless. It doesn’t represent our beliefs, our feelings, our interest, to us, it’s just a part of outdated, historic religious wailing and we don’t pay attention to it. It simply isn’t relevant.
It’s not that we aren’t proud of our heritage and being English, it’s just that we do it quietly and in our own way. Saint days are outdated here in England, most don’t subscribe to Christianity, most of us would prefer to celebrate other national events with more vigour and interest, so Saint George gets left on the back burner and ignored. Let us have every World Cup England football match as a national day off and we will be lining the streets in flags, face paint, chanting and singing, even those of us who don’t care much about football!
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