COLUMN: Let’s be proud to be English

The St George's Cross.
The St George's Cross.

This Saturday is a special day in the English calendar.

It’s St George’s Day if you hadn’t realised.

In fact, in all seriousness you probably hadn’t realised.

Yes, April 23 is our country’s patron saint’s day - the day we’re supposedly proud to celebrate everything which is good about England.

However, somewhat bizarrely very few actively celebrate the day – or, more worryingly, don’t even know the date.

I’ll hold my hands up, I’ve hardly conducted a scientific search of events taking place across Mansfield and Ashfield on Saturday to mark the big day, but neither district council is showing any official event in its what’s on listings.

I’d also take a guess that not many places or establishments across the area are doing anything to match the celebrations to mark St Patrick’s Day just four weeks ago.

Back then I did absolutely nothing to commemorate Ireland’s national day.

I’m about as Irish as most of Jack Charlton’s football team back in the 80s and 90s, so why should I?

I will always remember being asked by a friend a couple of years ago what I was doing for St Patrick’s Day.

Absolutely nothing was my reply.

Yet, how many people will be discussing their plans for St George’s Day?

Let’s be honest, people just use that day as an excuse to go out and get socially relaxed – because if you’re English, there is simply no other reason to celebrate another nation’s patron saint’s day.

It does sadden me, no, anger me, that we appear to do very little to celebrate our own national day like other nations do.

In Scotland and Ireland, their respective patron saints’ days are commemorated with public holidays.

Perhaps the real issue here is some people tend to associate our national flag with racism.

Sadly, in recent years far-right groups in this country have hijacked the St George’s Cross for their own twisted agenda.

It’s a real shame that the bigoted views of a minority have led to some feeling they cannot celebrate St George’s Day, for the fear of being accused of racism.

If it’s not racism, then why the reluctance?

Do the Celtic nations have a greater sense of pride in their own identity than us Englishmen and women?

Perhaps so.

But, I tell you one thing, it really isn’t racist to celebrate our national day.

In fact, like our neighbours Scotland and Ireland we should embrace it, not ignore it.

Prime Minister David Cameron has in the past indicated our national day has long been “overlooked”, although I guess he has more important things to worry about right now than give us another day off!

That said, there is no excuse whatsoever not to do our own thing to mark this special day.

So come on guys, let’s celebrate April 23 every year just like some of you do for the Irish equivalent on March 17.

And those of you that are doing something on Saturday, I hope you have a great day.