Ask most people about St George and they'll usually come up with one fact about him. It’s a sad to say but true, that one fact about St George which most people 'know' is entirely fictional. If some chap named George managed to find a real dragon and slay it, then I suspect I stand a pretty good chance of being sainted, once I find that unicorn.
Not only is it fairly improbable that he ever did actually slay a dragon (sorry kids), but if you pause to consider for a moment, it is just as unlikely that said deed would be rewarded by the church with a sainthood. I killed a rather vicious looking spider last week, but I don’t hold out any hopes of getting a letter from the Pope any time soon.
So if he didn’t slay a dragon, and he wasn't sainted for slaying a dragon, what other facts can we deduce about the man for whom England's hearts beat red, white and proud on every 23rd April?
Well, presumably he was English, right?
Wrong. In fact it was rather more likely he was Turkish.
Then he must have at least come to England for some valiant purpose?
Wrong, on both counts. Not only did he not come to England for any valiant purpose, but there's no evidence he ever came near England's borders. Sorry.
What we do know of St George is that he was most likely a Roman soldier who didn't think it was terribly fair that the Christians were being regularly tortured for his beliefs. For which belief he was duly tortured and killed. It is then said that during the early Crusades the Normans saw a vision of him, and were subsequently victorious. This is the only link to England for which there is the slightest shred of evidence.
Although this pastes a 'rosy' picture of our patron saint (see what I did there?) you may be interested to know that St George's loyalty to England isn't quite as fully committed as one might expect. In fact he is the patron saint for more than just this green and pleasant land.
No, he's not the patron saint of red roses, of green hills or even of dragons. He is however the patron saint of skin diseases, sheep and boy scouts.
He is also the patron saint in a number of other countries, such as Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ethiopia, Malta, Canada and, of course, Turkey.
At least one can say with certainty that his flag is the red cross on a white background, which will be proudly held aloft all day, with rallying cries once more dear friends of 'Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'
Oh, and by the way, if you're feeling a tad patriotic or you happen to be throwing a birthday party on the day, we do sell a range of England flag party decorations, as well as Union Jack Flag decorations. Sorry, we don’t sell dragons, but we can do a remarkably detailed Red Dragon and Castle Cake!