DUNCAN BARKES: We need to know when St George’s Day is first!

DO YOU know the date of St George’s Day? A recent survey reveals only 40 per cent of those asked knew it is April 23.

Despite this lack of knowledge, 76 per cent of those asked believed the day should be more extensively celebrated.

But does a vast chunk of society deserve to have an opinion on the lack of English celebration if many of them do not know the date of the day dedicated to their patron saint?

I am often amused by those who complain that St George’s Day – also the alleged anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and also rather neatly his death – does not receive the same attention as other national days of celebration.

In my experience, such people are part of the problem, as aside from their ignorance of when it actually is, they do nothing positive to promote the day.

British Future, the group that commissioned the research, says it believew many more do not celebrate

St George’s Day because they are ‘nervous’ of how others might view them; that they fear displaying the St George Cross flag might be perceived as racist or could upset ethnic minorities. This reasoning is pretty shoddy.

Every four years when England attempts to repeat their 1966 victory in the World Cup, you cannot move for the Cross of St George being displayed on everything from houses and t-shirts to water bottles and fridge magnets. Cars are adorned with stickers and flags featuring the symbol, and rightly so. The thought this might cause offence isn’t given a second thought.

As for possible offence being caused to someone from an ethnic minority, this is simply a myth.

I have friends from Russia, Syria and Iraq. None of them consider a countryman displaying their national flag as anything but pride in their home nation. To believe otherwise suggests a dangerous amount of ignorance – which I believe is at the root of this problem.

In spite of having better awareness of St Patrick’s Day and Independence Day, those surveyed believe that St George’s Day should be celebrated in a similar way.

But if we can’t be bothered to learn the date, then why should the national day be a whistles and bells shebang?

If you are a proper patriot, genuinely proud of your country, then you make it your business to know the date upon which you are supposed to celebrate your nation.

And you do this by getting together with family and friends to appreciate everything your country has to offer.

You don’t do it by whingeing and being clueless about the date you want to – literally and figuratively – fly the flag for your country.