April 23rd, not May 1st.
St. George's Day
Maybe England should replace the May Bank holiday with St George's Day.
May Day itself is an ancient holiday, marking the start of summer, but May Day bank holiday was brought in by Labour in 1978, in sympathy with International Workers' Day, and to be more European. Britain has seen precious little benefit from leaving the European Union, so maybe a home-grown public holiday would be a good symbol of taking back control.
That sounds straightforward, but there would be significant hurdles. GB News coverage of St George's Day last week indicated some of them, but also why it would be valuable.
Most countries in the world have a national day. St Andrew's day is a public holiday in Scotland, and there is strong support in Wales for St. David's Day to be a public holiday. Dr John Coulter expressed the value of a national symbol of belonging over and above politics:
"in spite of the troubles here in Northern Ireland, and in Ireland generally, St Patrick is our national saint, and he's been a way of reconciliation, where the various communities can come together."
However, getting St George's Day to be a family occasion comparable with Christmas, as he suggested, might take some doing. As Nana Akua indicated, the first hurdle is that feeling good about being English is a forbidden opinion, and to express it risks public shame.
"...as soon as St George's Day is here it seems as though a certain sector of the population want to sweep this day under the carpet, and deem anybody who dares has celebrated a racist ... there seems to be a liberal elite of very unpatriotic people who have contempt for anybody who supports the idea of this day as a celebration .."
Or, as Darren Grimes put it :
"Right: As I say - Happy St. George's Day! Or, if you're an EU flag waving member of the governing classes, Happy "St George was Turkish" Day."
That’s to undermine an ancient tradition. 23rd April became a feast day in England in 1222, and has had St. George's name on it since the fourteenth century. St George was a third century Roman soldier, born in Cappadocia (now Turkey) and raised in Lydda (now Palestine), and was killed for his faith by the Emperor Diocletian. He was celebrated in Anglo-Saxon England, mentioned by the Venerable Bede (7th century), and church dedications to him date back to King Alfred (9th century). He came to prominence as a symbol during the crusades. As a military figure, St. George was a natural patron of the chivalric orders of the period, and the St George battle cry was used during the Hundred Years War. After beating the French at Crecy, Edward III created the Order of the Garter (1348) to reward the prowess of his warriors, and chose St. George as the nation's emblematic hero, replacing the traditional patron saint, Edward the Confessor.
The national day has his name on it, but it's not really about him. His story is a symbol of courage in adversity, but few of us think about patron saints much nowadays. If there's a reason for the recent increase in interest in the English National Day, it's because there's a need for it. When things are going well, you can get by without symbols and traditions. When a culture is under attack, people look around for what is solid, and what will bring them together. It's at these times that traditions are cultivated, often deliberately, to shore things up. (1) And, as Neil Oliver pointed out, Britain and the West have been under attack for years:
"...for years now the message being pushed most fervently is that Britain is toxic .. incessant has been the apparent determination to run Britain down in every conceivable way, and always to name Britain as the villain with the longest charge sheet in the world. Our history, thousands of years of it, is read back to us now as a litany of wrongdoing, at home and around the world. Our heritage is condemned too, as anachronistic and somehow inappropriate, and so too our culture.
"It's no accident that our shared past is being used as the stick with which to beat us ... If a people can be made ashamed of the figures from their past - those who by their efforts and endeavours brought us to where we are today - then the moral legitimacy of the present is undermined, and then destroyed.... To seek to do so is a well-worn tactic."
Even now, with everything that's against us, Britain and the West generally are still destinations. And that's because, however you define what a national culture is, the test of it is that people find a real opportunity to make a life of their own, and want to pass it onto the next generation.
"As well as the place I love the people of Britain. In my travels around the place I've experienced nothing but welcome in England, Ireland, Wales and at home in Scotland. The British people I love are those whose voices have been silenced and ignored of late, those who want only to go honestly about their business, paying their dues and trying to make something good of themselves, and of the patch of the world in which they live. That Britain has fostered people like those, millions of them, silent witnesses all, is on its own the justification for the continued celebration of Britain. Every day I meet people like that - unsung and, most recently, told that they are products of something innately bad - that they need to feel ashamed of themselves, and of their sense of themselves." (Neil Oliver)
Britain's been successful because of its strong central administration, and most symbols of England refer to the state, war, or trade and Empire. As a result, there are few symbols of the domestic and indigenous English - the rose is perhaps the only one in popular use nowadays. For a long time "preserving the national culture" meant trusting central institutions like the British Museum and the National Trust were going to keep it all going. The last few years have shown that those fine-sounding mission statements count for little, and elite institutions are interested in anything but preserving the culture. Leaving it up to them will only give us more of what we have already got. So, if you want it - use it, or lose it.
"..I love this place, but I also believe in it. ...There is a long list of countries that once were here, but are here no longer....There are landscapes set apart from the sea, but the lines drawn, and countries named, are figments of collective imagination, and made all the more meaningful as a result. They are what we say they are. The existence of our homelands is therefore an act of will, and also of love....You might say that a country is a dream shared by its inhabitants. As long as enough of us believe in the existence of Britain then the dream remains alive and the country is made real. If too many people stop believing or choose to believe in someplace else then the dream is over and the country ceases to exist, as completely as a candle flame blown out by the wind." (Neil Oliver)
"...the Saltire is ubiquitous in Scotland, yet to fly our national flag, or suggest we ought to celebrate Englishness, and it'll be suggested that to celebrate Englishness is either racist or imperialist.... And I'm not afraid to say it - Right ? I'm English and I'm damn well proud to be so. Sneer all you want from behind your copy of The New European. Happy St George's Day, everybody." (Darren Grimes)