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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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St George's Day Celebrations

Celebrating St George's Day 

In 2009 and 2010, school children from Archbishop of York Junior School joined the Archbishop to celebrate St George's Day at Bishopthorpe. The Archbishop of York proudly waved his St George's flag as local school children played kwik-cricket on the lawn of Bishopthorpe Palace. The Archbishop encouraged all of us to "rejoice in the land that we live in" and called again for the feast of St George, the patron saint of England to be a day of celebration.


 The Government has announced that it wants to scrap our May Bank Holiday in England, so we can have a day off to celebrate St George's Day on 23rd April.

The Archbishop writes in The Sun....

As someone who loves St George, I have long campaigned for us to have a special holiday where we can celebrate our Patron Saint and all that is great about our wonderful nation.

There is so much to love about England. Why can't we put aside one day a year where we can wave our English flag of St George, sing songs about our proud history and maybe even drink a pint of English real ale with our friends!

One interesting fact you may know about St George's Day, is that in the Church calendar this year it will take place on 2nd May!

The reason for this change is that this year 23rd April is Holy Saturday, an important date in the Christian calendar, during Holy Week. Holy Saturday is when our Lord lay in the tomb the day before His resurrection. This is a time of reflection and contemplation for Christians and is a long standing tradition.

Maybe you will know friends who are giving up chocolate, or something similar during Lent, between Shrove Tuesday pancakes and the Easter Sunday eggs? Well, it's the same principle. Many churches will not be able to fly flags or ring their bells, or take part in these national festivities honouring St George this year in April.

I think it is important that the Church pays St George his full dues with the sort of celebration not possible during Holy Week – that is why I have written to Government Ministers calling on them to hold official celebrations on 2nd May, and to fly St George's cross from all government buildings too!

Very few people seem aware that this year, thanks to the Church, we are allowed a rare double celebration. Why not join me this year by putting up your St George's flag once again on 2nd May?

This is the first time in well over 100 years that St George's Day has been on the Saturday before Easter, and it is unlikely it will happen again for another 100 years! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for one big national party on May Day for St George!

Why not come to York on 2nd May at midday and join me in singing while the Minster's carillon bells ring out songs like Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory?

The answer for the Government is not to choose one date over the other – but instead they should ensure that we have a national holiday on BOTH days!

Let us wave our flags, sing our songs and thank God for St George! Long live the Queen!

The article, as published in The Sun, is available to read in full here.