Saint George’s Day in Eastern Christianity Date in the current year: May 6, 2019

Saint George’s Day in Eastern Christianity Saint George is one of the most venerated Christian saints. His feast day is generally celebrated on April 23. However, for the Eastern Orthodox Church which uses the Julian calendar Saint George’s Day falls on May 6 of the Gregorian calendar. In Bulgaria, this festival is a public holiday also known as the Day of Bravery.

Saint George was a soldier in the Roman army who was sentenced to death in the Diocletianic Persecution for refusing to recant his Christian faith. He is one of the most venerated saints in both the Western and Eastern Christian churches as well as one of the most prominent warrior saints. Saint George is connected with a large number of patronages throughout the world.

The best known legend featuring the saint is the tale of Saint George and the Dragon that exists in many variations. The best-known version of the legend can be found in The Golden Legend by Jacobus de Varagine. According to it, Saint George saved a princess who had been sacrificed to a venom-spewing dragon in order to save the city of Silene. Saint George killed the dragon, and in return fifteen thousand men, including the king of Silene, converted to Christianity.

The traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death is April 23. However, some Christian churches that use the Julian calendar celebrate it on May 6 in the Gregorian calendar due to the 13-day difference between the Julian and the Gregorian calendar. Countries that celebrate Saint George’s Day on May 6 include Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Russia.

In Serbian, the feast of Saint George is known as Đurđevdan. It is considered to be the Christian variety of Hıdırellez, a Turkic festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. Đurđevdan is widely celebrated in Serbia and the Serb community in the countries of former Yugoslavia as well as in the Serb diaspora. In some parts of the Balkans, Đurđevdan is also celebrated by other religious and ethnic groups.

The traditions of the holiday include decorating homes with blooming twigs and flowers, washing hands with water from church wells, taking baths with flower petals, having a festive dinner that includes grilled lamb, and signing and dancing around bonfires. The use of bonfires to welcome spring is similar to other seasonal festivals like the Gaelic Beltane and the Germanic Walpurgis Night.

Bulgaria is the only country where the Orthodox Feast of Saint George is a public holiday. In addition to commemorating the martyr, it is celebrated as Bulgarian Armed Forces Day because Saint George is the patron saint of the country’s military. The holiday is marked with military parades held in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and other big cities to showcase the manpower and equipment of the Bulgarian military.

In the Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches, the feast of Saint George is celebrated twice a year, in May and November. In Georgia, it is the November celebration that has the status of a public holiday. It is observed on November 23.

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Category

Religious Holidays

Country

Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina

Tags

Saint George's Day in Eastern Christianity, feast of Saint George, Bulgarian Armed Forces Day, religious holiday, Christian feast