George will bring Spring… There is no Spring without George…

So… It’s Saint George’s day on Friday, and being English isn’t the only reason I celebrate this day… I mean, there arn’t that many Saints that are so explicitly linked with Paganism!

It is hard to believe that the commemoration day of a Saint – even one associated with killing a rampaging dragon and the destruction of heathen evil – could ever have attracted such a host of folk customs if his martyrdom had not happened in spring…

In George's pocket are the keys to Heaven, in George's bosom are the keys to Hell...

The Greek form Georgius means a ploughman, a cultivator of land, and in Russia he was ‘Springtime Egorii’, he who unlocks the Earth after the frosts of Winter, he who protected the cattle and horse from the wild beasts of forest. He is addressed as the Keeper of the Keys of Summer and asked to make the grass grow and to disperse the clouds…

Many lands and nations, even after the onslaught of Christianity, continued to manifest in their sacral traditions a unique blending of Christian and pre-Christian beliefs. Both Christian prayers and Pagan spells were resorted to for the fulfillment of desires. Magic roots, snake skins and skulls were worn in charms next to the Christian cross. Forest & water demons, nature spirits and household guardians lived on in the popular imagination alongside angels and cherubim…

These icons were referred to as gods, as among these ‘saints’ were characters that were previously found in sacred verse of Pre-Christian origin and folklore… Again we look to Russia, and St George was on one hand ‘Egorii the Brave’ the bringer of Christian values to the Heathen masses & slayer of demonic dragons, and on the other hand he was the embodiment of Springtime… Look how close we are to Bealtuinn, and celebrations connected with Spring-time vegetation, the awakening of nature and the arrival of spring that are rife in Pagan traditions at this time of the year…

Once there must have been more than one date marking arrival of Spring, based on different motivations such as the solar calendar (the vernal equinox); phenological changes (the melting of the snow, the beginning of a massive spawning migration); means of livelihood, for example agricultural people saw the beginning of Spring as there various Sowing Days, for fishermen Spring meant the end of ice-fishing, etc.

Some saw the beginning of Spring linked the blossoming of various plants and flowers, I myself do not truly believe it to be Spring until the Hawthorn has sprung into Blossom…

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3 responses to “George will bring Spring… There is no Spring without George…

  1. I think I’m more of a daffodil person myself. They were a bit late this year.. and I didn’t feel it to be all Springy till I saw them.

  2. Pingback: What Am I Reading? 4/21/2010 Edition « Destination England

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