StGeorge - William Shakespeare's birthday
O Dragao da Maldade Contra O Santo Guerreiro - Glauber Rocha

St George's Day(the special day of England's patron saint as a result of King Edward III's obsession with his bravery). Which is always celebrated on 23 April fell on Easter Sunday .As the church of England and The Roman Catholic Church are not allowed to celebrate saint's day on Easter Sunday or any Sunday, it became a " right mix-up" as they didn't know when to celebrate. The Church of England suggest 2 May; the only day available to the Roman Catholics was 5 May, and the Boy Scouts said they will celebrate StGeorge's Day on Sunday 30 April, and defy the ancient law that you cannot celebrate saints on a Sunday. So none of them could decide when to pay homage to the Patron Saint and hero of England!

The funny thing is that St George never came to England. This chivalrous knight and martyr who slayed the dragon with his sword was possible born in Palestine or Greece.He could even have been a soldier in the Roman Army. Maybe he never existed at all!!! Some say he was a soldier in the 3rd Century,possibly dying in Lydda, Palestine in AD303, killed by the emperor Diocletians, because he protested about the execution of the Christians.

During the Crusades his cult developed, and got mixed up with St Michael of Marks&Spencer fame!! In the last 600 years the English people have reinvented his life, he never visited England, but now they say that St George was born in Coventry and was an English lord. In the 14th Century the English soldiers and sailors began to wear the red English cross as part of their uniform, but today we only seem to see the red cross flag in connection with the English soccer fans. King George VI started to give the George Cross for acts of great heroism. To add insult to injury he may never have existed, let alone slaying a dragon!!!

St George is the patron saint of England, Russia and Portugal. He is also very popular in Greece and Brazil. In fact in the Candomble, the Afro-Brazilian cult, he is a very potent figure, a symbolic power fighter for the good, as he once slayed the dragon. I suppose it is because he is such an influence to all Brazilians that Glauber Rocha the great Brazilian director made that famous and marvellous film " O DRAGAO DA MALDADE CONTRA O SANTO GUERREIRO". No-one could have created a more imaginative portrait of StGeorge,than a man from Salvador-Bahia where religion is very symbolic, a country with a real "mix" of religions.

By a big coincidence 23 April also celebrates Shakespeare's birthday, dying on the same date in 1616. Like the mystery of St George, it seems no-one knows what Shakespeare looked like. He is portrayed as a bearded figure, with a long face, gentle eyes and strong-looking.English people think he resembles Christ!!!! The beautiful use of words by Shakespeare permeate the English language and are still fresh today, as we use Shakespearean quotations all the time, such as "more sinned against than sinning" or "cry God for Harry, England and St George".

Incidentally , a journalist said he thought it would be a good idea to have 23 April as a Bank Holiday, and celebrate "Shakespeare's Day.

I had a very"English Day" last year when I went to the Proms in the Park in September. Wearing a blonde wig, I waved my St George's flag and I had a karaoke sing-song finishing with God Save the Queen!!!!????

Verinha Ottoni.


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