By George!

Today, 23 April, is St George’s Day, the traditionally accepted date of his Christian martyrdom in the fourth century AD. This remains the case in most diaries, even though the Anglican and Roman Catholic calendars have moved the English national saint’s feast day to 2 May this year, to avoid a clash with Holy Saturday (Easter being so late in 2011).

Concerted attempts have been made in recent years, including by some politicians and ecclesiastics, to raise the profile of St George and his day, as part of a more general campaign to celebrate a positive spirit of ‘Englishness’. Unfortunately, new surveys demonstrate that public consciousness of St George still remains quite low.

For example, in an online poll by Opinium Research conducted among 2,012 UK adults, only 48% of English residents could name the date of St George’s Day, even though 57% knew when St Patrick’s Day is (17 March).

This contrasted with four-fifths in Wales knowing the date of St David’s Day (1 March) and everybody in Northern Ireland being aware of when St Patrick’s Day falls. [Sources: Daily Express and Daily Mail, 23 April 2011]. 

Things were even worse in a survey by OnePoll for This England magazine. One in ten of the 2,000 English adults quizzed online thought that St David rather than St George was England’s patron saint. [Source: Daily Express, 18 April 2011].

Notwithstanding, 64% of Britons backed the Archbishop of York’s call for St George’s Day to be observed as a public holiday, in an online poll by ComRes last month for Premier Christian Media, among a sample of 2,064 adults.

The proportion rose to 71% among professing Christians and 69% for people living in England. The Welsh (45%) and Scots (28%) were less enthusiastic about the idea. [Sources: Church of England Newspaper and Church Times, 8 April 2011; and].

For 2009 and 2010 polls about St George, see BRIN’s coverage at:

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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