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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Should we mark St George's Day?
St George graphic
England does not celebrate its patron saint's feast day with the same spirit as its neighbours toast St Patrick, St David and St Andrew.

A survey this month found few English people knew St George's Day was on 23 April and many thought St George was their local pub.

Critics say the red cross of St George is offensive for some people. It was carried in the Crusades against Islam - and also in battles with the Scots.

Does England need a patron saint in this multi-cultural age? Should 23 April be celebrated by the English in the same way as the saints in Scotland, Wales and Ireland are remembered?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your comments:

As he was Turkish let's all have a kebab to celebrate.
James Wild, UK

Who says St George's Day isn't being marked? The BBC has certainly gone to a huge effort on TV, radio and online to remind us that nobody is celebrating it, dwarfing coverage of the other UK national days!
Damian McCaughan, UK

It's about time we provided this country with a single image to get behind. Perhaps if we provided the ethnic communities with a day where they could celebrate THEIR Englishness in their own way, as well as entering into a celebration with the white majority, we might see some racial harmony for a change. Perhaps this boil needs lancing rather than ignoring.
Iain Howe, England

Surely St George is sick of you all arguing about him

Jennifer Ethington, US
Surely St George is sick of you all arguing about him. Can someone show me a country that has no mistakes in its history (East Timor excluded)? You can be regretful of past errors and still be proud of what is right and good about your homeland. Sadly, it seems my English friends have forgotten what those good things are. As for those that object: do you all really understand why the Crusades received popular support during their time? I suggest you read up on the history of Christianity and Islam. From this side of the Atlantic it appears that England has been quite gracious to its Muslim population. As for good George himself, he is a symbol of faith and perseverence. I say keep him.
Jennifer Ethington, US

It's difficult to think of a more appropriate figure to celebrate than St George. He was foreign, brave, chivalrous and honourable. The English are a mix of historic foreign influences and continue to be so. It is right that we should get together to recognise this. Compared to most counries we are extremely tolerant and liberal. The vast majority of the English (and other Brits) are tolerant and inclusive. Let's celebrate together... all of us!
AK, England

Senseless nationalism is a problem, St George is definitely not

Anonymous, Singapore
Why not?! After being blasted with yet another showing of "Braveheart" on cable the other day, would an Anglo boost do any harm? Senseless nationalism is a problem, St George is definitely not.
Anonymous, Singapore

If we do live in a multicultural society where people have the right to express their cultural and ethnic identity, why is it so taboo to be celebrating English culture? The PC brigade have a hard time differentiating between football thugs and the rest of England. I'll give you a hint, the thugs tend to have shaved hair, tattoos and broken bottles in their hands, they too carry the cross of St George because they see it, quite rightly, as their National flag. What they do whilst under the banner of the flag has nothing to do with English culture/identity and more to do with narrow minded bigotry.
D Walton, England

I think that it is nice for the English to celebrate a day named in the honour of a bloke from Turkey. It would show what a nice bunch of open-minded, tolerant, friendly, people they are....
Ian, Scotland

Only the ignorant in a forgetful age could sincerely assert that there has never been a true English identity. England, a curious union of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman nations, created the world's first parliamentary system; English common law is the basis of legal philosophy throughout the Western world; the English system of liberty, shaped by rule of law and property rights, has become the ideal of modern Western civilisation; England invented party politics; the English language, the simplest and most flexible of the world's tongues, is capable more than any other great language of profound expression in literature, philosophy, and rhetoric.
Hugh Payne, Yorkshire, England

Who exactly is saying that the English can't celebrate their national day?

Clive, Australia (ex England)
Conduct a new survey and ask the English population who St George actually was. I'd be staggered if any more then a minutely small percentage could elaborate on 'a bloke who killed a dragon' - so let's have enough of this jingoistic rubbish about the 'right' to celebrate your national day with your national saint - most people haven't got a clue and don't care! And for those who do care, who exactly is saying that the English can't celebrate their national day? I don't believe that anyone will be stopped from flying the cross of St George in their front garden or organising a street party if they can be bothered - but that's the thing isn't it - can you be bothered?
Clive, Australia (ex-England)

Recently a pub in Colchester was banned from opening late to celebrate St George's day but a few yards down the road an Irish bar was granted extra hours for its national day St Patrick's. Why? The council said it didn't recognise the day as special! It has really come to a sorry state when every other country can celebrate their national day in England except the English! England is going to the dogs, combine this with the attempted destruction of our world cup bid and I feel ashamed to be in this country.
Jason Bardwell, England

We're told that we shouldn't celebrate our Englishness because we are now a multicultural society and everyone from an ethnic minority will be offended, apparently. I don't know any of my friends from ethnic minorities who are offended by celebrating Englishness. It's not about being against anyone. And with ethnic minorities making up barely six per cent of the population, just how multicultural are we anyway?
Graham Smith, England

Britain should be very slow in doing away with its traditions. Ever consider the fact that it could well be this very British traditions that attracted many to migrate to the UK.
John Lim, Malaysia

Celebrating a national day is not racist, simply an expression of pride

Chris, London, England
I celebrated St George's Day today with my Asian girlfriend. Celebrating a national day is not racist, simply an expression of pride. We had a great day, why shouldn't we be allowed to for just one day a year, without the PC brigade insisting we're wrong? If my girlfriend, a second generation immigrant can celebrate it, why is it repugnant to some people? Are the Scots wrong with St Andrew, or the Welsh, or the Irish? Is being English and proud of it a crime?
Chris, London, England

America celebrates their 4 July just as other countries celebrate their independence. Why should we not be proud to celebrate St George's? This should have nothing to do with religion. Just proud to be English or British - however you wish to call yourself!
Peter, USA

The lack of a cultural identity is the root of knee-jerk nationalism which leads to men like Le Pen gaining political ground. Flag-waving does not cause hatred, hatred stems from the lack of a flag to wave. For so long the English have had an imperial comfort-blanket, and have never needed to banner-wave in the same way that other parts of the kingdom have. Now that Europe threatens our governance, however, and the Empire had breathed its last, English cultural identity needs to be reasserted.
Paul Curran, UK

The days of the saints have been and gone

Peter S, GB
The days of the saints have been and gone. This country used to be several different unique countries and cultures. Now it is becoming (slowly) a single country, with more diverse cultures. If this country had a Bank Holiday for each Saint of the different cultures, we wouldn't work at all! Like the rest of the world, this country is no longer a white country, but it is now a multi-coloured country, and should draw on the different cultural experiences and look for a unified sense of direction, so that this country can try and solve its internal problems, and help other less fortunate countries. So these saint days should become days for everyone in this country, and celebrate the changes that have happened/are happening to this country.
Peter S, GB

I don't know why people keep referring to the way in which people in Scotland celebrate St Andrews Day. I live in Edinburgh, the capital, and cannot remember any festivals to mark the occasion. It's just like another day. It should be made a national holiday and be celebrated like St Patrick's Day in Ireland.
Robert, Scotland

Why do we insist on making huge problems out of nothing in this country? If everyone relaxed and stopped looking for arguments and being so petty I'm certain we could get on just fine!
Eloise, England

Our church celebrated St George's Day with a curry night - England's national food! All had a good time.
Jenny, UK

Have you noticed that the media bring up and create the tension in these kind of debates? The general people don't seem to care until you tell them it's a problem.
Rahul, UK

I believe people do not think of themselves as English, because we do not have a parliament or regional assemblies, and thus are controlled by a British parliament. This is quite wrong. Also the Scots have their national anthem, the Welsh do too, but at a football match the English football team have to mumble the British national anthem - why don't we celebrate St George's day by being rewarded with regional assemblies, which will be autonomous, and a national anthem?
James Blake, UK

Of course we must celebrate our Englishness, and with our neighbours our unique Britishness

Alan D, England/Britain
Is this bullying and racist English nation the same one which accepted a Stewart succession at the time of union, assimilated most of the immigration since that time and to this day accepts rule from a government dominated by Scots, which denies it a national parliament whilst insisting on one for the all the other members? When the meaningless regional assemblies hold sway the dissolution will be complete. Of course we must celebrate our Englishness, and with our neighbours our unique Britishness. If there are any national sins, they are ones we all share with no particular stain on the largest member of the union.
Alan D, England/Britain

I think as a British person St George's Day should have more pomp to it. I believe that the other people from other countries must respect that this is our country and this is our saint . All I can say is God save the Queen .
Tony Evans, Wales / Great Britain

I think one reason that we in England find it hard to get excited about St George's day is that his connection with our country is minimal. For St David and St Patrick their connection is clear: even for St Andrew there is a belief that he visited Scotland. Originally, St Edward the Confessor was regarded as England's patron saint. Personally, I'd find it easier to celebrate a saint who had some connection with the country.
Chris, Birmingham, UK

I am not a great admirer of the United States, but you cannot argue against their sense of patriotism. Some comments have argued that we are a multi-cultural society, and therefore should not celebrate individual saints' days. America perhaps has the widest ethnic variety in the world, but they still celebrate their independence regardless every year.
Rich, England

I have lived in the US for five years. Living in a foreign country makes one acutely aware of one's own culture. I used to think that the English didn't really have a culture but the truth was I was just too near to it to see it. Over here, nobody has heard of St. George's day, whilst St. Patrick's Day is a national event even in areas with little Irish heritage. If the English don't start recognising and celebrating their culture, we will simply fade away.
Marcus, USA

Your St George survey is prejudiced against English people

Anonymous, UK
Oh that's fine. Now you've gone and removed all the responses that were positive about St George and replaced them with anti-English drivel. By the way, your St George survey is prejudiced against English people, it has factual errors, and it's just plain stupid!
Anonymous, UK

To me the main point at issue is that we should have as our patron a saint who is at least British and whom we can be certain actually existed. My nomination is Cuthbert, but I suppose that he was partly Scottish and partly a northerner. Hilda might be better, she was 100% English!
Peter Elliott, England

Give us a couple of decades more to forget our amazingly successful and profitable empire, and get over our navel-gazing hangover, and I'm sure we'll be fine. But we were masters of the universe too recently to like our current status as dowdy hangers-on in the American camp.
Andrew Lale, UK

From Breakfast News this morning, radio at lunchtime and the net tonight all I am hearing is the expression "After all, the Scots celebrate St Andrew's Day". As a Scot who has lived all her life in Scotland I have never, and neither have any of my friends, celebrated St Andrew's Day in any shape or form! I suspect this is true of 99% of the Scottish population, the same 99% who wouldn't be in the least offended if the English felt the need to 'celebrate' St George's Day!
HC, Scotland

In out town of Leyland, Preston nearly 700 members of the Scout association gathered to parade the Cross of St George around the town take part in a church service and then carry the flags of St George, the union and the scout flags in a parade. I have heard not a mention of this in any paper or on TV. Two or three kids smashing windows yes but 700 to 800 hundred coming together to meet and have a church service not a thing. I suppose it is not 'bad' news so no one is interested.
Donna Htcuhings, England

If you want to be proud of England, you will have plenty of time for that during the World Cup

Andre, Derby, UK
St George's Day is not celebrated within the United Kingdom because unlike the Republic of Ireland (with St Patrick's Day), this is not a Catholic country. St George has nothing to do with celebrating Englishness or pride, but possibly more in tune with mobs of football louts! If you want to be proud of England, you will have plenty of time for that when the World Cup starts in just over a month. This whole hoo-ha over St George is irrelevant garbage which never dies down, and the sooner people realise that, the better!
Andre, Derby, UK

I think the reason we're less inclined to celebrate our national day in the way in which the Irish, Welsh and Scots celebrate theirs is that we have not been oppressed in the way that they all were (mostly by us!). We retain this extraordinarily ill-founded air of superiority and complacency, and I find myself actively envying the ability of our neighbours to take a wholesome, non-jingoistic pride in their roots. Add to this superiority the hijacking of our national flag (and the Union flag for that matter) by 'In-ger-land'-chanting football morons and a variety of loony right wing political interests and the reason for the non-event becomes even clearer.
Peter, England

Many may want to retain their so-called English identity but I don't think it really ever existed

YK, England
As England is a lot more cosmopolitan and a lot heavier populated than its counterparts it is not easy to have a national identity. Most English consider themselves more British than anything else, particularly those with Asia and Caribbean origin. For the minorities it is difficult to call themselves English for fear of being frowned upon by whites as well as people from their own communities. Also England is so large and culturally diverse there are now movements based on developing regional identities, which makes more sense. For example a Yorkshireman is often proud to call himself Yorkshireman, rather than an Englishman. I know many may want to retain their so-called English identity but I don't think it really ever existed.
YK, England

It's time these PC people were consigned to the dark insignificant corner they deserve, and were roundly ignored by everyone else. I'm English, and will celebrate what I want, and still be friends with anyone I want, regardless of nationality or religion.
Dave, England

I think it would be better if English people were more relaxed about national identity

Alister McClure, GB (Scots living in England)
On the one hand the English find it difficult to celebrate Englishness for fear of being branded xenophobic or racist, but on the other hand the English have little hesitation about celebrating when it comes to sport. Strange! I think it would be better if English people were more relaxed about national identity. As a Scot living in London I am certainly not offended by English identity - but I do get tired of the media calling Scottish people "British" if they do well at sport and "Scottish" if they do badly!
Alister McClure, GB (Scots living in England)

It is important to be proud of our heritage. It should not be used to exclude others but to integrate a multi-cultural society that would then be free to celebrate relevant festival days with other cultures. I am also passionate about St George's day because it is my daughter's birthday. (I got the dragon!)
Lesley Ryder, England

St George's day...we should be why don't we shout it loud?
Mo Chilvers, England

While my English compatriots at home are discussing the pros and cons of a national saint's day for England, are they even vaguely aware that 9 May is Europe Day, on which the EU celebrates its diversity and strength (also referred to humorously as St Schuman's Day, after Robert Schuman, founding father of the EU)?
John, Brussels, UK

Proud to be English, proud to be British, can't make my mind up about European

Simon, England/GB
Proud to be English, proud to be British, can't make my mind up about European. Yes, I think it important to celebrate a national day but we need a non-religious symbol to rally round so everybody in England can join in. Being a keen gardener I've always liked the rose, red and white.
Simon, England/GB

Why is it that the Scottish, the Welsh and the Irish are allowed to mark their national days with celebrations and festivals, yet when we want to do it, we get hammered by PC groups telling us that "Oh, you can't do that" and "Oh, that would cause such distress to our ethnic communities." Why? Why does everyone want to stand in our way? St George is OUR patron saint, we have a RIGHT to celebrate him.
Leon, U.K

Leon, UK I do believe you've just answered your own question. In one sentence you've described ethnic communities, many of whom were born and bred in England and would probably like to be accepted as being English too, but probably aren't, or at the very least feel like they aren't accepted. Then in the next sentence you talk about it being "OUR" flag. Are you implying that the people who don't have white skin, or Christian are "them"? i.e. not part of England? This is the kind of problem which needs to be fixed in England. Not just from white English people, but ethnic communities as well.
Anon, England

Let's be proud to be English. It must be a good country otherwise why would so many people want to come and live here? We should start taking the day off to show how proud we are, maybe after a few years the government may realise how we English feel and make it an English bank holiday.
Julian Evans, England

Even though I'm Welsh, I think it is awful how St Patrick's Day and other national holidays are treated with more respect than St George's Day. It should really be a bank holiday and more emphasis should be given by the media and news. It is sad that the reputation of a few have spoilt the occasion - being English, or even British, now immediately conjures up images of hooligans, Brits abroad and a kind of mini-US, but then, what should it make us think of? Spirit of Dunkirk, I suppose. England could really do with a new identity.
Lisa, UK

The problem is complex. It is true that a lot of the English flags are seen only when they are being hosed down by foreign riot police. However, I refuse to stop wearing clothes bearing the English flag simply because someone else for better or worse finds it offensive. I have no issues with other nationals wearing their symbols. I watched with interest the debate in the Scottish papers recently about whether a Scot should support England in the World Cup. If the positions were reversed there would be no debate, we would support them.
Guy Heaton, England

Pretty soon these national distinctions will become irrelevant

Ben, London
For a bit of fun and in the right spirit, why not wave a flag? However, I strongly do not believe in the cultural importance of flag waving of any sort. How can anyone seriously be proud of where they were born, as if they had any choice in the matter! It's as if people were to say: "I'm proud to have two arms, two legs and a brain!" Furthermore, with the globalisation stealthily creating a homogenous McCulture and with the prospect of a single European state growing likelier (which I for one would welcome, it's about time we became civilised in these islands), pretty soon these national distinctions will become irrelevant. To anyone who'd accuse me of being unpatriotic, I'd answer that they should be getting worked up by the shoddy state of our public services rather than celebrating a rather obscure figure from the distant past who wasn't even a native of these islands.
Ben, London

I am English and very proud to be so. So why do we have to mouth along to God Save the Queen? Surely this is the British national anthem, even though the fourth verse is highly insulting to the Scots. We should use Jerusalem or have a new anthem to represent a new England.
Stuart, England

For what do we need a patron saint? This is not a Christian country, but a country with some Christians, many other religions and a lot of non religious people. Yes let's celebrate England, our history and heritage; let's even have a day, but if it has a saint attached, you can count me out. One final thought - if you must have a saint for England, shouldn't they at least come from somewhere near England, or have actually visited the country?
Alex Taylor, England

Shouldn't we all be proud of our country, and proud to live in it! It doesn't matter what colour you are either. If celebrating St George's day helps us all to be a closer, happier people, that has to be a good thing. People object to the cross of St George, or the Union Flag because it's racist or because it was used in battles fought long ago. It's best to leave those thoughts back then, and concentrate on the here and now. Being PC over this doesn't do anyone any favours. Let's all enjoy the day, we have enough problems as it is without adding this to it.
Den, England

I am proud to be English and of what being English stands for

Helen Watson, Norfolk (Yorkshire Born)
I am proud to be English and of what being English stands for. Being English is a symbol and something to be very proud of. You just have to leave this country to see this. England and the English have achieved a lot in our past and we will do in the future. Let's remove the thug and racist image the St George cross has gained and celebrate our nationality. I lived in Singapore for a few years and their national day celebrations are amazing and reflect their national pride. They really put us to shame. We just seemed to be too scared to express our nationality as it maybe seen as wrong because of the ethnic diversity of our nation. But at the end of it all, isn't everyone who is born in the nation English to a certain degree? Mind you I am a Yorkshire lass first of all.
Helen Watson, Norfolk (Yorkshire Born)

The red rose is for Lancashire and England so, as for the red cross on a white field, you should simply disregard the ignorant peasants who have tried to take over a previously honourable symbol for their own petty gains. Happy St George's Day everyone!
Frank, England

I am proud to be English and think St George's day should be celebrated.
Sue Ball, England

The reason that St George's day is not celebrated as St Patrick's day may be because saints are selected by the Roman Catholic Church. As this was one of the world's first countries to distance itself from Rome, it would also discourage deities chosen by the R.C. Church.
Jeff Smith

The English don't celebrate St George's day not because we are afraid of having "guilt" to other nations feelings printed on our foreheads but because we do not have a thick black stout manufacturer or a whiskey manufacturer marketing the day for us. Neither do we feel that another country is dominating us and feel the need to be fiercely protective of our heritage and language like the Welsh. Celebrate the day for England and St George!
Ian, England

There may be periods of history that we should not celebrate, but shouldn't we be allowed to celebrate the good about this country?

Garry Illingworth, England
A group of friends and I have, for the past five years, celebrated St George's day. We are not fascists, but you would think we were the devil when you see some people's reaction. The St George's cross represents everything about England. There may be periods of history that we should not celebrate, but if we are expected to denounce those periods shouldn't we then be allowed to celebrate the good about this country? It's not about hating everyone else just being proud of England. Everyone else is allowed some national pride so why do we get made to feel guilty?
Garry Illingworth, England

The radio station I usually listen to were having a special St George's Day breakfast show this morning, explaining who St George was and celebrating the day in general. What's unusual about that? Well, the fact that the highly popular radio station in question is beamed across central Scotland and aimed primarily at the younger end of the adult scale. I couldn't help but think that they were celebrating St George's day more than some parts of England were. I have to admit, as a Scotsman, to find it very strange why the English are debating and arguing over their identity in this way. I'm a very proud Scot, and I celebrate St Andrew's Day and all things Scottish, but I'm also British and like the majority of my country in no way want to see the UK broken up. My Scottish and British identity are clear are defined and live comfortably side by side. For heaven's sake, find your identity and celebrate it, but that doesn't mean dropping being British. And once you do, perhaps the rest of us will join you in celebrating it.
Michael, Scotland

The big problem is that, where anyone can be British, being English seems to demand entry into one of several exclusive clubs, from the moronic football thug layer through to the highly exclusive sporting fields of Eton. England itself is not an homogenous unit, the cultural differences between Geordies, Yorkshire folk, Midlanders and the amorphous "South" militates against this. England may be a country, it is not a nation.
Steve Robey, UK

I am Chinese, with a Malaysian mother and a Singaporean father who have lived in England for over 30 years. I was born and brought up in England, but have been living in Scotland for nearly 10 years. I am British and proud to be!
Lynsey, Scotland, UK

Yes, of course we should be patriotic and celebrate St George's day. We have given in for far to long to the PC brigade - we must not upset this type of person or that type of person, but it does not seem to matter that they upset us. Let's be proud to be English and show the rest of the UK they don't have a divine right to patriotism.
David Reeves, England

The planet we live in is a tiny speck in a vast unending universe. It's home to us all whichever part we live on. We are all 'Worldians' and we have a far greater history than any individual country within it. Why is there no world flag?
Doreen Walls, UK England

Doreen Walls asks "Why is there no world flag?" Well, even if we wanted one do you think the decision-makers could agree on a design? The St George flag is the only symbol left for England since the red rose was shanghaied by some cheapskate political party that subsequently did not allow the English to state their nationality on the census form!
Roger Cromwell, England

The last thing this country needs is another public holiday

Alastair, UK
The last thing this country needs is another public holiday. It is about time that this country dragged itself out of the dark ages and scrapped all public and bank holidays as it is costing the British economy millions every year, which in turn is costing jobs.
Alastair, UK

No. Only 1% of the world's population is lucky enough to be English. To celebrate our good fortune too openly would be ill-mannered. Let the others have their national days - all the flag waving and marching they do smacks more of an inferiority complex than anything else.
Richard, HK

England has a lot to be proud of about its past, its time we flew the St George with pride and not take any notice of the politically correct characters that unfortunately blight our country. All other countries celebrate their national days with a glowing pride, if we dare to fly the St George we get called racists. So come on people! Fly the flag and let's show the world were still proud of England and its history.
Lee Williams, England

Although I do not know who St George is, if he did things good for his people, he should be remembered and his day should be celebrated. However, when some people use it as a tool to push racism, or raise malicious words to other people such as Muslim, they have to be condemned by the public. History always has the bright side and dark side, what we should do is to highlight the bright side and do not make plunder anymore.
Anthony Liu, Taiwan

Excuse me? St George, right? I can understand the Scots point of view but hundreds of years of English history is offensive to Arabs in England? I'd rather a 'thank you' for providing the safety from their home countries myself. Arabs have carried the crescent star into battle since the eighth century...twice into Europe against Christians. Do we complain about Middle Eastern flags?
George, UK

Is anyone else sick of seeing traditional British culture trampled by hyper-sensitivity, political correctness and post-modern sensibilities?

Ash, USA
Perhaps my history is faulty, but wasn't "St George for England!" the radio signal used to begin the commando raid on Saint-Nazaire in World War II? Could've been Zeebruggee in World War I. Still, this is a part of England's heritage. Is anyone else sick of seeing traditional British culture trampled by hyper-sensitivity, political correctness and post-modern sensibilities? Leave it alone.
Ash, US

Of course the English should celebrate their own symbols of nationalism. The sooner the United Kingdom is split up, the better.
Gareth Williams, Wales

It's our wedding anniversary so I know how we will celebrate 23 April. Out of interest, the county where I currently live (Prince George's) was formed on 23 April 1696 and has a flag composed of St George's cross with the county seal in one quadrant. Home from home....
Andy, UK (living in Maryland, US)

Even though I'm an Aussie I celebrate St George's Day every year. I gather my family and friends around and we laugh, sing and make merry. It's a great day; a happy day; a day to celebrate; a day to have off work. It's my birthday!!
Peter Gibson, Australia

As a Brit abroad, I look at superannuated, treasonous twits like this chap Hutton and laugh when I'm not filled with pity. Jerks like him are paid by the British taxpayer to educate, not undermine, the country. As far as I'm concerned, I find the Muslim scimitar would be equally offensive to the descendants of those people murdered by the Islamic hordes from Israel to Spain over the last few hundred years. Hutton, crawl back to your self-indulgent little burrow and keep your disingenuous ideas to yourself.
Stuart Galloway, USA

Why do people need symbols to rally around to make them feel proud?

Andy, London, UK
I have never seen the need to have a special day to celebrate what I already know. Why do people need symbols to rally around to make them feel proud? I spent eight years in the British army including the Falklands because I felt this was the right thing to do. I did it for the UK though not England etc. We are British and we live in the UK. Andy
Andy, London, UK

Why would St George's Day offend ethnic minorities in Britain and England? Surely they came here to be English and to be part of England. Also, we should not feel guilty for what Englishmen have done hundreds of years ago.
James Thorlby, England

The lobbying force of business and economists have already robbed us of enough of our holidays. The country is a group of people, not a company, so let's take a day of our lives back from the profit machine.
William Ramsden, UK

I am tired of being told that I must be ashamed of being English, and that customs handed down over countless generations are xenophobic/racist and so forth. If we cannot have a patron saint then let's have an England Day, (or is that, too, racist?)
Margaret Portlock, England

It's not just the Welsh and the Scots that celebrate their national day. Independence Day and Bastille Day are all widely accepted. I am currently living in Sydney and Australia day is a day of great public pride with some spectacular public events. Shame on those denouncing St George's Day because it may offend. It's our nation and we should celebrate that fact.
Simon Dewey, English (currently living in Australia)

A multi-cultural nation still needs to have a national symbol

Chris, UK
A multi-cultural nation still needs to have a national symbol, I am totally for the celebration even though my father is a Jamaican immigrant from the sixties. Although there are many things in the past that are not pleasant to associate with the national symbol of England there is much now that we should be very proud of. Bring on the holiday!
Chris, UK

I think everyone should be proud of their heritage, no matter what country, and celebrate it appropriately. As a Scot I don't find the St George's cross offensive, what I do find irritating is people supporting England and using the Union flag.
Stuart, Scotland

I think we should avoid a celebration. Not because I'm anti-patriotic, but precisely because I am. I've always thought it a sign of weak, chippy self-regard that so much is made of national saint days in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Let's not follow their example.
Ben Broadbent, England

I am English but have lived in Wales for the past 30 years. I feel its all a question of strength of identity. The Welsh are Welsh before any other tag and as such have no problem with their identity. Being English, am I British first or English first or both at the same time? St George gets lost in all of this because, I suggest, the British factor confuses the English identity. Yes, please let us celebrate St George's Day, but in so doing dump the British tag (after all the original Britons were largely Celts), lay the Union Jack to rest and compose a new national anthem to celebrate England and its people.
David, Wales

St George is one of a few Christian saints honoured by Muslims in several Arab countries

Matthew Duckett, England
St George not multicultural? He was a Turkish man who was martyred in Palestine and is the patron saint of England, Catalonia, Georgia and numerous other diverse places - how multicultural can you get?

Offensive to Arabs and Muslims? On the contrary, St George is one of a few Christian saints honoured by Muslims in several Arab countries and he had nothing to do with the crusades which happened 900 years after his death.

Forget the myths and the dragons and the pub - the real saint is listed in the Church of England's calendar on 23 April and many churches will be holding services in his memory. If you want to celebrate St George's Day, try going to church!
Matthew Duckett, England

I am proficient in five European languages and can state with some authority that we English have one invaluable asset above all others - our language. We should use St George's Day to actively promote and celebrate our language, one which has proved to be an essential vehicle for English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, American and Commonwealth literati over the centuries. This is something we can be really proud of: why not flaunt it?
Peter Sykes, UK

Enjoy your day, England, and good luck in the World Cup!

Rhodri, Wales
Many have written on this page about not celebrating St George's Day as it may offend others. I am a proud Welshman and would certainly not take offence if my English friends celebrated their culture and history on their national day. What would cause offence is if Britain was celebrated on St George's Day. I have got the impression from talking to English friends at university that many English people find it difficult to distinguish between England and Britain. This is why we often see the Union flag being flown by English football fans and the Queen of the United Kingdom is often referred to as Queen of England. Therefore the English have to be very careful not to mix these two (although intertwined) distinct identities. Having said that England has many things to be proud of in its own right and shouldn't have any problems finding ways to celebrate. Enjoy your day England and good luck in the World Cup!
Rhodri, Wales

How dare anybody tell me as an Englishman that I cannot celebrate St Georg's Day or take pride in my national flag. The Union flag is the flag of the Union not England. The fact that the English flag was carried victorious and in defeat is a total irrelevance and nothing to do with racism or religious bigotry. Those were different times when you were either the victors or the vanquished.
David, UK

Most definitely we should celebrate St George's Day, why should every other nation in the world be allowed, encouraged even, to celebrate their national identity except for the English? Political correctness has reached an extreme level, to the extent of becoming offensive in itself. We now live in a small world in multi-national societies who each need to retain their identity within those communities. We also need to accept the differing religions, beliefs and heritage of everyone living with us. Whoever we are and wherever we come from, we should be encouraged to celebrate our national identity. Long live St George (and St Patrick, St David and St Andrew etc. etc.).
DG, England

St George's flag has very unpleasant connotations and I can't shake that off

Wendy, UK
Scotland, Wales and Ireland commemorating their saints' day is an entirely different matter to the English commemorating theirs because it is born out of celebrating their differences from the homogenous British/English culture. We can pretend we live in a simple, uncomplicated society, but the fact of the matter is, we don't. St. George's flag has very unpleasant connotations and I can't shake that off. Those who are adamant that we should have a St George's Day celebration should go ahead - and just see who turns up.
Wendy, UK

Simple answer yes! After all the world celebrates St. Patrick's day and I'm sure people take a day off on this day! Bring on the red roses!
Craig, UK

We hear much in the media about Britain being a multicultural society these days. To me this means that we have people from culturally distinct backgrounds on the one hand celebrating their own festivals and upholding their own traditions and on the other hand participating in the national culture and national events across Britain. One of these cultures is English, and I believe it is important that this culture celebrate its own festivals, one of which is St George's Day.
Robin, England

The question I believe is symptomatic of an age of political correctness gone wrong. Yeah of course we should all celebrate our independent national days, but we must also celebrate our united nation. I see myself as an Englander, a Briton, and a European.
Andy Venn, England

As a Welshman I say of course the English should celebrate their patron saint. I enjoy celebrating St David's Day and feel a sense of pride at being Welsh. I fail to see why anyone should object to the English doing exactly the same for St George's Day. But whether Welsh or English we should all be proud of being British. Don't let the PC brigade dilute our heritage we all have much to be proud of.
KD, Warwick

Yet again the PC brigade are at it and attacking anything inherently English

Ian C., UK
Yet again the PC brigade are at it and attacking anything inherently English. What is happening to this country?! If you're seen to be proud to be English you're immediately attacked for being a pseudo-colonial racist! For God's sake, lighten up! I may be in a minority but I am proud to be English. And before the left-wingers start attacking me I am also European and a keen advocate of the euro - I am not a British imperialist harking back to the days of the Empire. I am just English by George!
Ian C., UK

Whether or not the whole day is based on mythology or not it is still the one and only day in the year when the many great things about England could be celebrated. We have great respect to the Irish and their patriotism on St Patrick's day but as soon as someone suggests we do the same we are told our flag might offend some people and our saint is a fraud. Why can't people just go out and celebrate their nationality on the 23rd without the so called critics telling us we might be offending a tiny minority? I'm sure the people who want to celebrate on the 23rd are simply proud of their country who haven't considered being patriotic to be the crime some people say it is.
Tony Collins, UK

Instead of a parade I think there should be an old English fair in Hyde Park.
Andrew, England

We should be proud to wave the flag and celebrate St George's day. England has a great deal in its heritage to be proud of and we should not be afraid to celebrate our past. Let's also get this flag thing right. The vast majority of flag-waving football supporters are perfectly law abiding individuals who are proud to follow England. The reason the flag has become associated with thugs is because of the media.
Ethel, England

So St George is mythical, the flag is that of the Pope and the English are descended from fifth century German invaders. But what difference does all that make. St Andrew was Jewish and St Patrick was Welsh, but do the Scots and Irish care? We need a day of national identity that reclaims our flags from skinheads and football hooligans.
Emrys, Britain

I don't think we should celebrate that day. Scots are sympathetic people and should not be dishonoured by celebrating ancient offensives against them.
Johnston, Finland (ex-UK)

I will not be made to be ashamed to be English by political correctness

Phillip Holley, UK
Why is it only English nationalism that is frowned upon? London authorities are more than happy to lay on events etc for St Patrick's Day, and the Scots, Welsh and Irish all celebrate their identity so of course we should celebrate St. George's Day. I will not be made to be ashamed to be English by political correctness.
Phillip Holley, UK

At present the expression of Englishness is largely the preserve of thugs and extremists because there are no opportunities for ordinary English people to express a shared identity. England is denied a parliament and a national anthem. In addition the media, particularly the BBC, is steadfastly British (not English) for fear of offending England's Celtic neighbours. St George's Day should be a national holiday allowing the people of England to celebrate a unique culture and all that is best in English life.
Mark Radford, England

Yes! We should celebrate St George's Day. Forget about where the flag originates from and its previous use. We are all too afraid to say to the rest of the world we are English and proud of it. Having lived and worked in the Middle East, Africa and Asia I think that it is true to say that most other countries show far more interest in their country and the achievements of their countrymen (and women). Like many other countries we have a chequered history but we have achieved a lot and have a lot to be proud of! All too often we are inclined to dwell on the negative points. So for at least one day in the year let's celebrate all the good things for a change.
David, Hong Kong

There is no question that it should be celebrated. It has nothing to do with religion or some saint, but about identity. History is filled with legends and from these people learn lessons and try to follow examples of behaviour and courage. This is what is represented by the legend of St George and the dragon. But more than that, it is an enduring link between generations. We have contributed more to the history of the world over the last millennium probably more than any other nations. When I see the cross of St George flying, I am proud of being English. Time to reclaim our past and our future.
Anthony, London, Uk

23 April should be a bank holiday for the English, just as the Welsh, Scots and Irish should have a holiday for their patron saints. We could celebrate our contributions to literature, music, sport and art. Then toast St George with a pint of English ale before enjoying a curry - to reflect the fact that England is a land with many settlers, whether their ancestors landed 20, 200 or 2000 years ago.
Patrick, England

We must be the only country in the world where it is frowned upon to be patriotic

Eric, England
Of course we should celebrate St. George's Day. We must be the only country in the world where it is frowned upon to be patriotic. I find it ridiculous when Labour councillors say that the Union flag should not be flown on public buildings. Wherever else you go in the World, the relevant national flag is flown. It is about time that we started to show that we are proud to be British/English.
Eric, England

With England and the rest of the UK being multi-racial, the do-gooders are saying it is "not right". I am English, but live in Wales. Try telling the Welsh that 1 March is not important and see what reply you get. As for someone saying St George is not English, St. David wasn't Welsh. So what? It is to do with a national identity. It should be celebrated and celebrated with pride. Be proud to say you're English, I certainly am!
Steve Byrne, UK

In regards to Steve Byrne's comment, "St David isn't Welsh"...St David is the only British saint to be born in the country he is representing. Sorry you are wrong, but St David is Welsh.
Ceri, Australia (Welsh ex-pat)

I feel I must correct Steve Byrne on his comment that St David is not Welsh. I believe, St David is the only British saint who is representing a British country of his own nationality's David or Dewi Sant, was a saint of the Celtic Church. He was the son of Sandde, Prince of Powys.
Julian Thomas, Brisbane, Australia (Welsh)

I am always amazed to see so many English people out celebrating St Patrick's day. The only time you see any nationalism in this country is in the death of a monarch, football or racism and the less said about the latter scum the better. Assert your nationalism in a positive way and be proud of it, it's not something to be arrogant about just enjoy it.
Aidy (Irish), England

England is losing it's identity and we should celebrate our saint's day in the same way as the rest of the UK does. After all, if we can have a St Patrick's day parade in London (and I wonder if you could do a St George's day parade in Dublin?) and the other countries national flags flying here without anyone taking offence, why can't we make the effort? The far right have hijacked our national pride - it's time we got it back!
Sara, UK

I remember a St George's Day parade in the Scouts every year - and that was 20 years ago. It still happens. Look on the roofs of churches in April and you'll see the flag flying. St George's Day is not forgotten!
Guy Chapman, UK

Its time for decent English people to reclaim St George's flag as their own from the minority of racists and football hooligans

Lisa, UK
So what if St George's flag has been carried in anger against various races? If the English carried the English flag against the Scots, then surely the Scots flag was carried in anger against the English. By your logic we should therefore ban all national flags. What nonsense. Its time for decent English people to reclaim St George's flag as their own from the minority of racists and football hooligans that it now appears to represent. Why is it that all other national identities are permitted to celebrate their identity, but it is denigrated as racist if the English do the same?
Lisa, UK

Why not?! I'll tell you why not. Because it will be seen as nationalistic in the most repugnant and xenophobic way. Although the Welsh, Scots and Irish national days reflect nothing but good spirit, the English celebration will end up as a drunken free for all resulting in violence and the destruction of property. It would around where I live anyway. I would not like to be an Asian on St George's day if it ever were taken more seriously.
Andy, UK

I'm tired of feeling like I ought to apologise for being white, Church of England and English. I'm proud of my heritage, proud of my country and proud of my God. I appreciate that we are a multi-cultural society, and have no problem with that - in fact I welcome it. However, I do take exception when I'm made to feel like less of a person for wanting to celebrate my country's long history and heritage. I say yes to celebrating a national 'England' day, and if that offends anyone who is not English, then tough! So far this year I've seen celebrations for St Patrick's Day and Australia Day, so what's wrong with celebrating the country we live in? For hundreds of years the St George Cross has been used to define England - it's an integral part of the Union Jack. Let's reclaim the cross from the racist thugs and football hooligans, and start to show some REAL pride in our beautiful country.
Lisa, UK

Yes, I don't care where the origins of the flag comes from, be it war with the Scots or the is our history, no one else is denied the right to celebrate their patron saint, why should I feel guilty....all this on the day when a racist gets votes in France, we should be careful people or the English public will go the same way...
Sven, UK

It is time that the English came out and were counted

Chris, England
It is time that the English came out and were counted. How could we have a government distribute census forms in England and not allowing the first choice to be English. In Scotland the choice was British Scottish and British Irish, I had to list myself as other and put in English. I am proud to be English and disagree with the person who says the flag of England is used by Skinheads, the St. George cross is now being displayed proudly by more and more English supporters realising that the Union Jack is not the flag of England.
Chris, England

It seems to me that we can do better than to celebrate a dull myth. We should rally round a decent hero like Nelson, Wellington or Montgomery.
DominiConnor, UK

Just a comment on the statement at the top of this page: "Does England need a patron saint in this multi-cultural age?" Whatever people think the answer is, wasn't St George born in Turkey? Therefore, is he not already a multicultural symbol? On a final note, I personally think that St George's day should be celebrated... the William Shakespeare suggestion was good too.
Ahmed, UK

Let's use it as a focal point to be proud of England

Linda, UK
Of course we should celebrate - the Welsh, Scots and Irish all celebrate their national days, so let's use it as a focal point to be proud of England and the English. OK, roses aren't in plentiful supply in April, so perhaps manufactured ones could be put on sale for us to buy and wear, with a good national charity to benefit?
Linda, UK

It just so happens that 23 April is also the birthday of the world's greatest ever playwright, William Shakespeare. Couldn't we celebrate this great Englishman instead? After all the Scots have their Burns night, celebrating a person who, let's face it, is not a patch on our Will!
Kevin, England

It is a fatuous link to a mythical national past

Ryan Sykes, England
Why don't we just see it for what it really is? It is an invented tradition, like much of the Royal ceremony that presents a fatuous link to a mythical national past and is used to reassert some kind of natural national identity.
Ryan Sykes, England

Of course! We should have St George's Day parades which ends with St George slaying the dragon. It should be a day off for all England. It's also about time we claim back our flag from the extremists who made it their own. Slowly the flag has become less seen as extreme due to sporting events, but it is time to finally take it back. Let us fly our flag from every flag pole. It's about time England within the United Kingdom reasserted herself, and maybe we can have an English parliament too. Hopefully it would lead to a fully federal United Kingdom with the kind of power separation between the central government and the home countries as in the US.
Andrew C, England

For starters 'Saint' George was never a saint. Secondly he never came anywhere near England, and thirdly to rub the salt in, the red cross was the battle flag of the Pope! The crusades were holy wars, hence they carried the Pope's flag. At that time no country had a flag anyway, they carried the standard of the monarch, or locally of their liege lord. So start looking for a genuine English Saint.
Adrian, UK

Yes, we should. Half of the problem is that the only time you see the St George Cross nowadays is when it is being waved by beer-bellied skinheads at football matches. If the whole country celebrates then it might just show the flag, and the English, in a more positive light and take away some of the negative connotations associated with it.
Chris L, England

Chris L, I find it bizarre that you believe the only time you find the cross of St George being waved is by beer bellied skinheads at football matches. I have plenty of hair, drink wine, am of athletic build, watch a lot of football and am as guilty as anyone of waving our precious flag. Most of the decent people I see waving the flag are not as you describe either. I think your piece is a triumph of perception over reality.
Anders, England

In an era when the national identities of Scotland and Wales are being re-affirmed through devolution what is being done for England? I believe the celebration of St George's Day (and of being English) would be a great boost for our sadly lacking sense of national pride.
Matt, England

I feel inclined to welcome any event that helps to strengthen our sense of national identity

Chris B, England
I feel inclined to welcome any event that helps to strengthen our sense of national identity and social cohesion. Regarding the cross of St George: I haven't heard any English nationals complaining about the cross of St Andrew - and neither have I heard any Scots demanding its removal from the Union flag. Make of that whatever you will.
Chris B, England

Do I get a day off? I'm in favour!
Matt, UK

Of course St. George's Day should be celebrated! It seems as though only the English are frightened of expressing their feelings of patriotism. The argument that the displaying of the St. George cross will offend some people is poppycock! We live in England, we're proud to be English and anyone living in England who resents us celebrating our Englishness in any way we see fit can leave our English borders as soon as they like!
Michael Miller, England

We English have done many things in the past, some great and others shameful. But we are not alone in such history. Ours is the language of the web, possibly the future. We should celebrate our day. For such a small country we've done bloody well!
Roy, England

English, the language of the web Roy? Well, for now but by 2007, Chinese would overtake English as the number one language on the web.
Oliver John, Netherlands

If we're going to celebrate anything, why not some of the brilliant people that England has produced - such as Shakespeare or Newton?

Grace Pickering, UK
If we're going to celebrate anything, why not some of the brilliant people that England has produced - such as Shakespeare or Newton? I always celebrate 23 April (not least because it's one of my best mates' birthdays!) but as the generally recognised birth date of William Shakespeare, someone who has had a far greater influence on this country than St George. The problem is with celebrating "Englishness" is that many people equate being English with being white. This is why the most important geographic parts of my identity are the fact that I'm from London, and that I'm British. Unless "English" stops meaning "Anglo-Saxon", St George's Day will always alienate a large proportion of those living in England.
Grace Pickering, UK

I think it would be wonderful if we celebrated St George's Day as something everyone in England could be proud of. Not because our country is better than anyone else's, but because, regardless of our many diverse backgrounds, it's ours.
Matt Cresswell, England

See also:

23 Apr 98 | UK
The great St George revival
23 Apr 99 | UK
How English are you?

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