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ST GEORGE’S DAY CELEBRATION (article first published : 2006-04-4)

Proclamation: “Let it be known that on Sunday, April 23 in the year 2006 a great gathering there shall be at the esteemed Camelot Castle where thou shall partake of a tasty feast with Festivities and merriment.”

This genial exhortation comes from the British Cultural & Heritage Association will be celebrating St. Georges Day with their annual feast at Greensleeves Medieval Kingdom on April 23.

The festivities commence with the Ancient Ceremony of the Roast Beef. As time-honoured tradition demands, the Ceremony will be followed by the Official Toast to the Noble Knight. Entertainment also includes a display of English country dancing and a sword demonstration by the Medieval Sword & Shield Club.

The famous story of St George and the Dragon became immensely popular in the West through the Golden Legend, translated and printed by Caxton, and he became the subject of many legends in the Middle East and Europe. The best-known legend tells how St George slew a dragon with a lance.

The dragon was a local pest that terrorised the whole country, poisoning with its breath all who approached it. Every day it was appeased with an offering of two sheep but when these grew scarce, a human victim was chosen by lot. The lot had fallen on the King’s daughter (traditionally the King of Libya) who went to her fate dressed as a bride.

George attacked the dragon, pierced it with his lance and led it captive with the princess’s girdle as if it were completely tame. George told the people not to be afraid. If they chose to believe in Jesus Christ and be baptised, he would rid them of the monster. The King and people agreed; George killed the dragon and 15,000 men were baptised. George would take no reward but asked the King to maintain churches, honour priests and show compassion to the poor.

The legend continued with an account of the sufferings and death of George in the persecution of Christians by Emperor Diocletian, this last point probably being the only historical element of the story. George was selected as the Patron Saint of England because he embodied the ideals of the country – bravery and heroism, courage and compassion and of helping those in need.

Since 1997 there has been a concerted patriotic campaign in England to observe and remember St George’s Day with a determined effort to re-instate it as a national holiday. Statistics prove that it is now one of the top three days of celebration in the country. Commemorating St George's Day is seen as a way of reconnecting Britain's diverse community with national history, giving people of all backgrounds a sense of Englishness and confidence in identity.

South Africa’s rich history and wealth of a “rainbow” heritage means that its people have the opportunity to recognise and celebrate their cultural differences in an era where groups are encouraged to be culturally identifiable.

This celebration of British culture and heritage starts at 11h30. Lunch comprises a three-course buffet menu and a cash bar will be available. Entry fee R125pp (R105pp BCHA members) with children under 12 half-price. Greensleeves is situated at Camelot in Hillcrest. Booking is essential on 031 202 6174 during office hours.




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