St George’s Day is held once a year on April 23, but why do we celebrate it and what does it all mean?

What is St George’s Day?

Also known as the Feast of Saint George, this is a day celebrated by various Christian churches and by nations of which St George is the patron saint - including England.

Who was St George?

George is thought to have been born in what in now Turkey and became a soldier in the Roman army.

It is believed he was executed in the year 303 for refusing Emperor Diocletian's demand to convert away from Christianity.

April 23 is accepted as the date that he died.

What about the dragon?

George is recognised in various folklore and tradition with one enduring legend dating back to medieval times claiming he slayed a dragon.

One of numerous versions states there was a town in Libya that had to feed a dragon two sheep a day to keep him from eating them.

When the sheep start to run out, the town started giving the dragon one sheep and one child.

As the king's daughter was about to be sacrificed, George is said to have been travelling through the town and asked what was going on.

George offered to slay the dragon if the people converted to Christianity.

How did St George become England's patron saint?

St George was chosen as the country’s official saint after King Edward III came to the throne in 1327.

Despite not being from the country, he was considered somebody who embodied characteristics the kingdom wanted to project to the outside world.

It was part of a strategy to make England more powerful and warlike.

George is also the patron saint of Georgia, Portugal and Ethiopia, cities such as Moscow, Freiburg and Beirut, and the Scouts as well.

How do we celebrate St George’s Day?

St George's Day was celebrated on a par with Christmas until the 18th century.

These days it more low-key, with parades held on St George’s Day or the Sunday of the week it is celebrated, people dressing up and playing music and the Scouts will marching in memory of St George.

The St George’s flag is flown and it is common for the hymn Jerusalem to be sung.

The national emblem and national flower of England is a red rose and so people will wear a rose on this day.

Do we get a bank holiday?

Despite a recent push, including campaigns and petitions, to get St George's day made a public holiday and given the same status as St Patrick's Day in Ireland or St Andrew's Day in Scotland, April 23 is not a bank holiday and so we don't get for our patron saint's day.