St George's Day
Compiled by Diane Anderson
St George, a Roman soldier and priest who died in AD303, is remembered for two different things - the legend of him fighting and slaying a dragon and for becoming a martyr because of his faith.
Fighting a dragon
The fight between St George and the dragon took place after the fearsome beast made its nest close to a town.
Residents were frightened of being eaten and started to offer sheep for the dragon to eat. But soon the dragon had eaten all the sheep and the people were forced to start picking the daughters of residents as food.
One day it was the turn of the king's daughter, the princess, to be eaten. She dressed herself like a bride and walked off to the dragon's lair. St George was riding past on his horse and asked her why she was out walking alone. When the princess explained that she was being offered to the dragon as food, St George promised to help her by killing the creature.
St George fought with the dragon as it tried to attack the princess. He made the sign of the cross with his hand, to defend himself, and successfully killed the beast. He showed the dragon's body to the town's residents and told them his faith in Christ had saved him and helped him kill the animal.
St George was also forced to choose between worshipping Christ or Roman gods. The Roman emperor Diocletian tried to force St George to renounce Christ by bribing him with land, money and slaves.
However, the soldier refused to make a sacrifice to the Roman gods. So the emperor had St George executed.
Many people chose to follow Christianity because of St George's strength of faith.
St George's Day
St George is respected in both Christianity and Islam. Many nations worldwide celebrate St George's Day on April 23. But some nations commemorate his life on May 6.
St George's birth and death
St George was born into a noble Christian family in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina between 275AD and 285AD. He was beheaded in Nicomedia on April 23, AD303.
In the past, men celebrated St George's Day by giving roses to women, while women gave books to men. Today the day is commemorated by the giving of books. The two writers, William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes, both died on April 23, 1616. In 1995, Unesco adopted April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.
The Hong Kong branch of the Society of St George was started in 1868. It is still operating today and will host a celebration of the royal wedding between Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton on Friday.
Now do this:
1 What animal comes to our mind when we think of St George?
a. a dog
b. a dragon
c. a donkey
2 What religion did St George follow?
b. Orthodox Greek
3 The Hong Kong branch of the Society of St George was started in ...
1. b, 2. a, 3. b