Tagged ‘Festivals’

Saint George’s Day

April 27th, 2011 by admin

Good day, everyone! It was a long winter, but we’re finally seeing signs that spring is thinking of staying a while. And After months in hibernation, the English colonists are back in their canvas and wool suits; sharpening knives, repairing fences, and working diligently to improve the land that they’ve settled.

Last Saturday (the 23rd of April) was Saint George’s Day, a feast day observed by the English, Portuguese, Lithuanians and others. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the historical Saint George was a martyr who may have been a Roman soldier in the third century, although that could be a fanciful invention. He may also have organized a Christian community in Iran, traveled to Britain as an emissary from the Emperor Diocletian, and possibly slain a dragon.

During the fourteenth-century reign of King Edward III of England, George was adopted as the patron saint of England, and went on to lead Henry V to victory over the French at the 1415 Battle of Agincourt. The Saint George’s Cross was the official flag of the English nation from the thirteenth century until the union with Scotland in the seventeenth. Any English flags displayed by the Pilgrims would have been either the Saint George’s Cross or the British flag, a combination of George’s Cross with the Saint Andrew’s Cross of Scotland.

Saint George’s greatest feat, according to the Christian legends, was his victory over the dragon that had ravaged the city of Silene in modern Libya. In true draconian fashion, the monster had so terrified Silene’s inhabitants that they had started offering their children as sacrifices, the victims to be chosen by lottery. It wasn’t until the king’s daughter was chosen to feed the beast that Saint George makes his appearance, wounding his foe with his spear. He waits to deliver the death-blow, however, striking off its head with his sword only after the king and fifteen thousand men accept Jesus Christ and are baptized.

A strange combination of knight-errant and wandering priest, George has since become associated with the triumph of Christianity over idolatry and sin, making him an attractive patron to the seventeenth-century nation of England and its isolated colony in Plymouth Bay. However, while the Church of England may have recognized Saint George’s Day as a legitimate celebration, the Reformists who governed New Plimoth most likely did not, as the day was not specifically referenced in the Bible. An interesting contrast in this tiny community, and one that could provide good conversation the next time you visit.

Aaron Dougherty
Interpretation Apprentice

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.