Sunderland celebrates St George’s Day – will you be joining in?

By George, I think he's celebrating: George Halliday, landlord of the Wavendon pub on Grindon Broadway, is planning big celebrations for St. george's Day.
By George, I think he's celebrating: George Halliday, landlord of the Wavendon pub on Grindon Broadway, is planning big celebrations for St. george's Day.
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FOR many Wearsiders, today will pass just like any other. Unlike St Patrick’s Day there will be no alcohol-fuelled celebrations – in fact many will not know that April 23 is St George’s Day.

FOR many Wearsiders, today will pass just like any other. Unlike St Patrick’s Day there will be no alcohol-fuelled celebrations – in fact many will not know that April 23 is St George’s Day.

Saint George

Saint George

When quizzed, many Wearsiders told the Echo they were unaware of who St George actually was.

But there are several people across Sunderland who are determined to fly the flag for England’s Patron Saint, with a host of events taking place across the city.

The flag of St George is flying over the Civic Centre today from dusk until dawn and there will be various activities taking place in libraries across the city.

Sunderland Minster is also holding a special prayer session at noon to mark the special day, and the Wavendon pub is one of many that is hosting special English celebrations.

Reverend Martin Anderson, of the Minster, said: “The time of prayer gives people the opportunity to pray for the nation.

“In the jubilee year and the year that we remember the Queen as sovereign, it carries extra value to it where we can recognise all that’s great about our democratic nation.

“People can perhaps get a little overzealous about linking patronages with other countries but for me it’s more about the opportunity to reflect on the fact we have a patron saint.

“We know the story that St George killed the dragon, which symbolises defeating death and evil in the Christian story, but to me it’s about being able to celebrate all that’s good about England.

“England is a sanctuary that people come to and we fight for human rights around the world.”

The Wavendon, on Wavendon Crescent, is also holding its annual celebrations.

Today, the pub is flying the English flag and staff dressed in red and white will be serving up a special punch, dragon’s blood, and English-themed food, including bangers and mash.

Regulars have also pledged to get in the St George’s Day spirit and will be wearing themed clothes.

Landlord George Halliday said: “It’s a shame because St George’s Day will never be celebrated the same as St Patrick’s Day.

“Our flag has somehow become associated with racism and it’s not at all. It’s the flag of our patron saint and we should be proud of it.”

Twitter: @sunechochief

Sunderland folk gave their opinion on St George’s Day:

Former detachment commanding officer at the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Gloria Bailey, right, of Durham City, was the only person quizzed who knew when St George’s Day is.

The 51-year-old said: “I’m disgusted that people don’t celebrate it enough. From being in the Army I celebrate it every year and so does my family.

“We teach cadets about the history of St George’s Day and the importance of celebrating it.”

Jeffrey Wheatley, 67, of Sunderland, didn’t know when the day was, but believes more should be done to celebrate it.

He said: “There should be more flags around. In America they fly their flag with pride. There are stars and stripes everywhere you look, but over here you just don’t see us doing the same with our flag.”

Brian Craigs, 58, from Washington added: “I didn’t even know when St George’s Day was. We should make more of an effort to celebrate it.”

Margaret Hindmarch, 74, of Boldon, said: “I think if we had a day off for it then people would celebrate it more.”

St George’s Day facts:

•Born around the year 280 in what is now known as Turkey.

•A soldier who rose up through the ranks of the Roman army, becoming a personal guard to the Emporer.

•Executed for being a Christian on April 23, 303, and is buried in the town of Lod in Israel.

•St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. To get water, residents had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. On the day George visited, a princess had been selected. He killed the dragon and in gratitude, the town converted to Christianity.