Feast Days (and Holy Days) are days celebrated to commemorate
the sacred mysteries and events in memory of the Virgin Mother
of Christ or His apostles, martyrs and saints. These days are
celebrated by special services or festivals. Ever religion has
feasts but none are so rich or judiciously constructed as the
system of festive seasons of the Catholic Church. The succession
of these seasons form the ecclesiastical year documented on the
The oldest ecclesiastical feasts are the Jewish solemnities
of Easter and Pentecost. Together with 'The Lord's Day they were
the only universal Christian feasts into the third century. Epiphany
and Christmas were added in the fourth century and in the sixth
and seventh century the feasts of the Blessed Virgin were added
(Assumption and the Immaculate Conception). The calendar grew
because bishops were given the right to establish new feasts.
The Statutes of Bishop Sonnatius of Reims in 620 lists eleven
feasts; the Statutes of St. Boniface mention nineteen days. In
ninth century England feasts were confined to Christmas, Epiphany,
the three days of Easter, Assumption, St. Peter and Paul, St.
Gregory and All Saints Day. As the number of recognized saints
increased through the first half of the Middle Ages, eventually,
every day of the year listed at least one saint. Many days listed
two or more. Eventually some saints were removed but today some
days are reserved to one or more saints.
The Judgement of St George
1.07m x 0.53m by Bernardo Martorell 1400-52 dating c 1430-1435
St Geroge Woodcarving
There are two categories of saints listed in the liturgical
calendar. Martyrs and Confessors. Martyrs are considered to
have died in the Lord's service and were given feast days on the
day of their deaths. Initially, confessors were not given saint's
St. George who was a martyr and one of the Fourteen Holy
Helpers has a feast day on April 23rd, the anniversary of his
death by beheading.
In 1969, Saint George's feast was reduced to an optional memorial
in the Roman Catholic calendar so the solemnity of his commemoration
depends purely on local observance. However, St. George Day is
celebrated by several nations and cities of which Saint George
is patron saint. These include, England, Portugal, Georgia, Bulgaria,
Bosnia and the Republic of Macedonia, and the cities of Moscow
in Russia, Genova in Italy and Beirut in Lebanon.
In Palestine the feast of St. George is celebrated in the
Monastery of St. George in al-Khader near Bethlehem. It is also
known as 'Georgemas'.
In Great Britain St. George Day is a national holiday.
April 23, the traditional day of St. George's death is a provincial
government holiday in Newfoundland, Canada.
The country of Georgia celebrates the feast day of St. George
on November 10. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the dedication
of the Church of St. George in Kiev by Yaroslav I the Wise in
1051 on November 26.
On April 23, Boy Scouts remind themselves of their Promise
and Scout Law. The Sunday nearest to St. George's Feast is an
annual occasion for specialty ceremonies where Scouts reaffirm
their Promise and acknowledge the Scout Law in a national act
A traditional custom of April 23 is to wear a red rose
in one's lapel. Some areas claim St. George to have been a very
romantic person; the red being his color, the rose being a symbol
of his love. Another custom is to adorn the flag of St. George
with garlands or some manner of that sore.
An English tradition of St. George's Day involves the Most
Noble Order of the Garter. The latest Ladies and Knights of the
Garter are officially announced on April 23 from Buckingham Palace.
The town of Tryayna, located in the Balkan Mountain central
part of Bulgaria, is known for its many architectural monuments,
mountain nature and its importance as one of the center of the
Bulgarian National Revival Period. Legend holds that on St. George's
Day, 1808, the Tryayna master Dimitra Oshanetsa and his journeyman
Ivan Bochukovetsa competed by carving the ceilings in two of the
rooms of the Dasklova House. The competitors carved two suns on
the ceiling. The journeyman's sun symbolizes youth; the master's
sun symbolizes wisdom. Both remain in the ceiling today. The bet
was won by the master but it took six months to complete. Since
the wood carving bet has become a yearly tradition.
Woodcarving surrounding the St. George Story and especially George
and the Dragon were also an annual English tradition.
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