Thursday, 17 March 2011

Changing dates.

This evening after my Portuguese class I realised I was running a little late and that I might well not make the connecting bus from Oldham to Delph. That would mean either an expensive taxi or a long wait in the bus station. So, instead of racing across Manchester at top speed to catch the bus, I sauntered along to Victoria Station and caught a train to Greenfield where I would be able to catch a bus home.

The train was full of drunken leprechauns. It was quite amazing. There were huge numbers of people dressed in something green and wearing ridiculously comical hats which told anyone who was interested that today is Saint Patrick’s Day!! It made for a very entertaining ride home. Nobody was aggressive. There was a good deal of good-natured banter, mostly about Manchester City and Manchester United, the city’s two football teams.

The most soberly dressed of this crowd was probably the most Irish, possibly the only genuinely Irish, of them all. His shirt WAS green but his hat, instead of being a felt concoction about 18 inches high, was a fairly restrained bright green trilby. Granted you could only wear such a hat today and it did have a bright ginger false beard attached but he mostly kept that under his hat. He also sported a … what shall I call it?… a buttonhole? … a nosegay? …a sprig? …of shamrock. Whatever you call it, it was a sort of clump of shamrock pinned to his shirt. One of the Mancunian leprechauns asked him why he was wearing salad on his shirt.

The Irishman may have been (relatively) soberly dressed but, like the rest of them, he was not sober. However he appeared to hold his drink more quietly than the rest. Or maybe it was just because he was a soft spoken Irishman. The rest shouted happily the length of the train and peppered their wise sayings with numerous swearwords, causing one equally drunk lady to cry out over and over again, “Stop swearing!!!”

At one point someone decided to bring up St George whereupon the soberly dressed Irishman informed us that the English patron saint has had his day moved this year. One cheerful chappy suggested that this was to help pay for the royal wedding. I am not sure of the logic of that but others did agree with him. But no, the Irishman explained that it is because St George’s Day, 23rd April, this year falls in Holy Week and so cannot be celebrated on its usual day.

The “Stop swearing!!!” lady was very puzzled. She had never heard of Holy Week and needed to have it explained to her. Instantly one of her companions commented that “it must be a Catholic thing” so we had to explain that in fact it’s a general “Christian thing”.

Is it just here in the UK that people know so little of the culture of their country that someone hasn’t heard of Holy Week? I remain astounded. The lady concerned didn’t know when DT George’s Day was either.

Anyway, I was not totally convinced about St George’s day becoming a moveable feast so I googled it when I got in. I found a webpage all about the good dragon slayer with lots of info written by Dr John Sentamu. This is what he had to say,

“One interesting fact you may not know about St George's Day is that in the Church calendar this year it actually takes place on May 2.

The reason for this change is that this year April 23 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.”

So there we are. And Dr John Sentamu is the Archbishop of York so I suppose he should know. But somehow I bet there will be a lot of flags of St George around on the 23rd of April all the same.

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