Monday, April 23, 2007


Happy St George's Day

First off let me wish our English friends across the sea a very happy St George's Day. Many of you are probably not aware that today is St George's Day which is no great surprise really. It seems that of the nations which make up the UK, the English are the only ones who aren't allowed to celebrate their national identity.

There is a great deal of hostility towards Englishness emanating from the upper echelons of British society who appear fearful that pride in the English national identity will lead to a surge in English nationalism. These days, the national group most stifled by Britishness are in fact the English.

In England, St George's Day is not a public holiday and attempts to make it one have failed. Interestingly, the BBC's Mario Cacciottolo and Victoria Bone today compared and contrasted the differences between how England's patron saint is celebrated with how Ireland's patron saint is celebrated:

"Everyone wants to be Irish on St Patrick's Day. It could be the "craic" or the estimated 13m pints of Guinness drunk worldwide on 17 March.

"Revelry, and often excess drinking, is the order of the day wherever you are marking it.

"This year in London, 100,000 people watched the fifth annual St Patrick's Day parade.

"The biggest party was in Birmingham. Nine days of events were put on this year and close to 150,000 people turned out for the parade.

"The same numbers are not expected to take to the streets for St George.

"In Dublin the festivities lasted for five days and saw 4,000 performers and more than a million people take to the streets.

"The official St Patrick's festival (the "Day" was dropped when the festivities began to last the week) was established by the Irish government in 1995.

"Politicians take the day seriously too. It has become common for the entire government to be abroad, promoting the country around the world.

"It seems unlikely Westminster will be deserted on Monday for the same reasons.

"Americans take Paddy's Day very seriously. In 2005 the Chicago River was dyed green to celebrate.

"But New York takes the crown for the biggest parade in the world, with two million people turning out to watch. The lights on the Empire State Building turn green too.

"The lights are also changed to recognise St David's Day. St George's Day is not on the lighting rota.

"Elsewhere celebrations are varied and sometimes bizarre. In Tokyo there is an Irish sports day and in Sydney a bachelor of the year award.

"Unlikely places like Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador have the day as a public holiday."

It's a shame that the English don't have a day where they can really show pride in being English. I think the British government would be uneasy at such celebrations because they know they would go down a storm. The BBC today have a host of emails from English people regarding the lack of celebrations for St George's Day. Most people want to be able to mark the day. Here is what Alison Louis from Hertfordshire had to say:

"I think that English people should make more of St Georges day. St Patrick's day is seen as a day of festivals and fun, yet many of the people celebrating St Patrick's day are not Irish. English people should have more pride in their country. There is no doubt in my mind that St George's day should be a national holiday!"

I agree with her. Why should the English allow their identity to play second fiddle to Britishness? I always felt Morrissey's song Irish Blood, English Heart summed the plight of the English up pretty well:

I will leave any readers from England with this thought. If being from England is seen as a source of shame in today's Britain, if celebrating England's patron saint is seen as a source of annoyance amongst the upper-class British stiffs, if 'Englishness' has become a dirty word amongst pro-Union elements within the UK, then ask yourselves it worth being in the UK at all?

I say wave your flags and to hell with the begrudgers.


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

© 2008 United Irelander.