Happy St. George's Day

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Until recently, England's national day has been a fairly low-key affair but that's changing. On April the 23rd you are likely to find your local pub decorated in white and red bunting with St. George flags above the bar. It's not all about football and beer though, there's a lot more to this special day. So just who was George and just how should you celebrate England's patron saint?

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Very little is known about St. George but its thought he was born in the late third century in Cappadocia, now known as Turkey. He was a soldier who fought for the Emperor Diocletian, the emperor ordered the persecution of Christians but George refused to take part. In 303, he was himself tortured and executed in Palestine, becoming an early Christian martyr.

Most of us know about the legend of George slaying a dragon and this tale of bravery can be traced from the middle-ages. St George's Day is celebrated on the April 23rd in England, reputed to be the day of George's martyrdom in 303. It also happens to be the date of Shakespeare's birthday – another reason to celebrate.

Up and down the country towns and cities are preparing to party in honour of the nation's patron saint. We all know about St. Patrick's day, St. Andrew and even July the 4th but the English have been reluctant to make a fuss over their own special day, until now that is.

There are campaigns to make St. George's day a national holiday and cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester will be leading the way in making April the 23rd a special day for the nation. Check out your local press for parades, music, food events, craft workshops, Morris dancing and loads of activities for the kids.