Today is the traditional feast day of St. George, patron saint of England, but for some reason, I haven't been invited to any St. George's day parties, pub outings or given a humourously oversized promotional hat. So the question has to be asked, why isn't today as big a deal as certain other saint's days?
Maybe its just the overload of English days this time of year. We've only just recovered from the Queen's birthday, and suddenly we have to celebrate both a saint's day and Shakespeare's birthday. Its just too much.
National Pride, or a Lack Thereof
Perhaps this is an issue of national pride Maybe we don't think we need it. England was firmly in control of most of the world for a long time, until we decided resolutely that running most of the world from one of its smaller nations was a bit of a pain in the arse and gave it all back. The other constituent (and ex-constituent) countries of the United Kingdom have their reasons for disliking the English...and want to prove to the world that they're different through the medium of drinking and parades. The English have gone from being bullying rulers to "just one of the guys", and we would perhaps rather keep our heads down in case someone brings up the subject of Imperialism.
Then again, the sheer amount of white and red facepaint at football matches makes that theory fall flat. So the reason quite possibly lies with the saint himself.
That Whole Dragon Thing
Mention St. George to anyone, and the first thing they think of is probably the dragon myth. He could have been remembered for standing up to an Emperor, and being martyred for refusing to renounce his faith, but no. Instead he will forever be the bloke that stabbed a lizard.
On the face of it, the story isn't even that impressive. Animal nests in spring, villagers get thirsty, soldier kills animal, soldier gets laid. Its only because the animal in question was a dragon that anyone actually cares, dragons are horrid, slimy, angry things. He wouldn't be quite so well respected had it been a beaver damming the spring. And regardless of the species, killing wildlife isn't that nice a thing to do. A friend of mine overfed his pet iguana once, and he didn't get canonised for it.
Amusingly enough, some learned people like to point out that ol' Georgie didn't actually kill a dragon. Well, to those people I will say, we're well aware of this fact, as dragons don't exist, Sherlock! They're mythological!
Being too Patronising
St George is something of a jack of all trades when it comes to patronising things. He is patron saint of no less than 20 other nations, including a few we don't particularly get along with. Not only that, but he also saw fit to add his support to both leprosy and herpes, as well as certain other unnamed skin conditions. No wonder we can't get excited about the guy, he is both tremendously non-commital and has somewhat poor taste.
Contrast this with St Patrick, responsible for half the business of the green food colouring producing industry. Paddy was far more focused in his patronness, covering only 3 countries, 3 cities and the hatred of snakes. A bit like Samuel L. Jackson.
Of course, there is the counter-example is St David, who's patronisation list is a mere four items long. Two of these are vegetarians and poets, which doesn't really put across the image of a proud warrior. But the one country he was given will support him to the end, probably because they seem to be under the impression that George's alleged dragon-slaying antics are a thinly-veiled allegory for killing Welshmen.
Scotland as a whole has a reputation for disliking the English, so the credentials of their saint probably have little weight. Although he is the saint of Army Rangers, so probably has something of a mean streak.
Any Excuse for a Party
When it boils down to it, today is a special day. A day with a name. A celebratory day. It doesn't matter what it represents. So this evening I shall raise a glass, and say happy herpes day!