Saturday, 18 May 2024

From The Liberty Wall – St. George’s Committee – United By St. George!

The St. George’s Committee’s ongoing educational and outreach work is challenging “institutionalised Anglophobia.”

SAINT GEORGE’S DAY – 23rd April – is just around the corner. Therefore, the National Liberal Party thinks that it’s both timely and appropriate to highlight some of the recent educational and outreach work carried out by the St. George’s Committee – SGC (1).

We were particularly interested in the launch of the SGCs United By St. George! campaign. A spokeswoman from the group outlined the idea behind the campaign which is designed to highlight and challenge “institutionalised Anglophobia”.

Here’s what she had to say:

“The St. George’s Committee – SGC – believes that there’s a campaign of institutionalised Anglophobia. This is where the establishment seems to portray any pride in England and the English in a wholly negative and derogatory manner.

One form of attack on the English is to say that we’re ‘too insular’. We find that hard to believe. The latest official government estimate (2017) of the population of England is 54,786,300 – although we presume that this figure includes non-English as well. (2) We’re not even sure if the true extent of the English diaspora is known. However, let’s say that there’s another 54 million people around the world who are of English ancestry. That gives us over 100 million people.

Now it’s entirely possible that some of these 100 million folks would be shy and retiring – or ‘insular’ – whilst others would be outgoing. But to say that the English as a whole are ‘too insular’ is a sweeping generalisation. And whilst the English are not a race – we’re an ethnic grouping – some would say that this sweeping generalisation as almost racist in tone.

On this point, surely it’s up to a nation and its people if it wants to be ‘insular’ or not. Indeed, since when has it been a crime to be shy and retiring – or ‘insular?’

Another form of attack is to say that St. George wasn’t English. We’ve seen a few theories as to his background – but the most popular is that he was a Roman officer of Palestinian and Greek descent. We’re totally ok with that.

However, England isn’t the only nation to have a non-indigenous Patron Saint. For instance, St. Patrick was probably Welsh – and not Irish. But does anyone attack the folks of Ulster and Éire (and the rest of the world for that matter!) who’re out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Also, St. Piran is the Patron Saint of Cornwall, but it’s believed that he was Irish. But does anyone begrudge the Cornish celebrating him? On a similar note, St. Andrew was thought to have been born in Galilee. However, no-one seems to have a problem with the Scots enjoying themselves towards the end of November.

We’re not aware of anyone questioning the legitimacy of St, Patrick, St. Piran or St. Andrew. So why pick on the English and our right to celebrate St. George? Again, we feel that it’s a form of Anglophobia.”

With all of this in mind, the St. George’s Committee has so far produced two pieces of artwork (see above) which challenge institutionalised Anglophobia. At the same time, they know that some people – including the well-known English advocate Tony Linsell, author of the thought-provoking An English Nationalism (3) – have even questioned the very existence of St. George. They also acknowledge that St. George is celebrated by many different people around the world. Again, the SGC is “cool” with this and has actually made the theme of their campaign United By St. George!

As the SGC spokeswoman noted:

“We feel that the English are singled out and attacked because St. George is not English. But are the Irish, Cornish or Scots attacked in the same way? No.

In fact, St. George is celebrated by many people and nations, including Portugal, Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Macedonia. We’ve absolutely no problem with that.

In fact, we decided to look at this issue – of a ‘shared’ St. George – in our educational and outreach work. Therefore, under the slogan United By St. George! we’ve so far produced two pieces of artwork. The first relates to Aragon and the second to Catalonia.

Without getting too involved in Spanish internal politics – many in Aragon and Catalonia want independence (4) and claim that they’re distinct nations – St. George’s Day is enthusiastically celebrated on 23rd April.

It’s a public holiday in Aragon (and is known as the Day of Aragon – Día de Aragon) where it’s a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed (5). Celebrations are held all across Aragon and especially in the capital city of Zaragoza (known as Saragossa in English).

St. George’s Day is also celebrated in Catalonia (6) where he is known as Sant Jordi. Indeed, in Catalonia, perhaps his greatest act – slaying the dragon – is set in Montblanc, capital of the comarca (county) Conca de Barberà, which is several miles from the Catalan capital, Barcelona.

Although not a public holiday in Catalonia, the 23rd April sees many people out on the streets. This is because Catalans view St. George’s Day as the most romantic day of the year. Since the 15th century, it has been known as Lover’s Day (dia dels enamorats) or the Day of the Rose when lovers are supposed to give a red rose to their sweethearts. Since the 1930’s, a tradition is also to give a book to loved ones (7-9).

A sprig of wheat is often tied to a rose with a piece of red and yellow striped ribbon. This symbolizes the Senyera, a red and yellow striped flag. This is an ancient symbol of Catalonia and you can see it incorporated into our England & Catalonia – United By St. George! poster.

It’ll probably come as no surprise to say that Barcelona – the capital of Catalonia – really goes all out to celebrate St. George’s Day/El Diada de Sant Jordi. Here the streets are packed and many buildings are lavishly decorated with red roses. I’m sure that this year will be no exception.”

To conclude, the St. George’s Committee spokeswoman wondered how the Establishment (in other countries where St. George is the Patron Saint) viewed those who took part in their respective St. George’s Day celebrations. In particular, what was the attitude of the metropolitan elite in each nation?

She also wished everyone (English and non-English alike) an early Happy St. George’s Day and encouraged local communities to put on family-friendly celebrations in an attempt to emulate those held in the Stone Cross area of West Bromwich – – which are reputed to be the biggest in the world!


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