The 23rd April is a very busy date. 400 years today, Mr William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon died on 23rd April 1616.  He was also born 23rd April 1564.  The 23rd April happens to be St George’s Day; St George our patron saint of England, is often depicted slaying a dragon to rescue the fair maiden.

 “Love is a smoke made with the fumes of sighs” from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

This quote seems to tie the two together perfectly.

Royal Mail has issued 10 Shakespeare quotes as 1st class stamps. 

The patron saint of the Anglo-Saxons was St Edmund, who was king of East Anglia from about 855 until his death. At least the Scots and the Welsh have managed to hang on to their patron saints. We English have lost so much; or to be more accurate, have been robbed of so much by the Norman conquerors, that today we hardly even remember what was stolen from us.  

As for that dragon-slaying legend; well one of the Saxon battle-standards was a white dragon, while the Welsh, of course, fought under the ddraig goch. So a dragon-slayer was a very suitable symbol of the Norman conquest. If you celebrate St George, you are celebrating your conquerors and oppressors.

It’s St. Jordi is Catalunya’s version of Valentine’s day and is a one day festival of romance, roses and books all inspired by the legend of Saint George.  St. Jordi is the patron saint of Catalonia province of Spain (along with the Virgin of Montserrat in the Montserrat monastery near Barcelona) and Sant Jordi is celebrated on today to commerate his death on that date in the year 303 AD. Saint Jordi slew a dragon to save a princess – and then plucked a red rose for the princess from a rose bush, which had sprouted on the exact spot, where the dragon’s red blood had spilled.   So the men in Barcelona and Catalunya give their sweetheart a red rose, and in recent years a new Sant Jordi tradition has sprouted where ladies give the men a book.

Today is also The First Day of Passover (Pesach = Hebrew ‘to pass over’) – the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery by the Pharaohs (rulers over the kingdom of Egypt, considered half man, half god, but not King).  Only unleavened bread called Matzo is eaten. The festival lasts 15 days.

A Great weekend to come…