Opinion: Why don’t we celebrate St George’s Day? Blame late-stage capitalism

The St George Cross flying outside Borough Hall in Bedford to commemorate St George's Day 2022. Image: Bedford Borough Council
The St George Cross flying outside Borough Hall in Bedford to commemorate St George's Day 2022. Image: Bedford Borough Council

Every week I compile our regular ‘what’s on guide’ and every week I’m overwhelmed with the quality and breadth of events that take place in our little old town.

Just a month ago I was putting together the events for St Patrick’s Day. The Cellar Bar, Esquires, The Welly all hosted events, as well as nights at the Kings Arms and likely every pub in the country.

I published the latest what’s on guide last Thursday, but it only occurred to me yesterday (Saturday) that it’s St George’s Day on Tuesday.

Apart from the annual flag hoisting at Borough Hall (and given the red and white braces that I’ve seen Mayor Wootton wearing, I’m certain he’ll be hoisting it with gusto) there were no events planned at any of the venues we feature.

Although this weekend sees the wonderful St George’s Day pageant at Wrest Park, our patron saint’s day is woefully overlooked. And it got me wondering why – aside from the politicising of the George cross – this was.

And the main conclusion I’ve drawn is that it’s due to late stage capitalism and the commodification of every element of our lives.

Think of St Patrick’s Day and what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Leprechauns? Shamrock? Or a pint of Guinness?

Even if it’s a leprechaun or a shamrock, there’s probably a pint of Guinness somewhere in your mind’s eye.

And what do all the places hosting St Patrick’s Day events have in common? They all sell Guinness.

And with 13,000,000 pints of the black stuff sold on just one day, it’s no wonder the brewery has wholeheartedly got behind St Paddy.

It’s much the same reason why supermarkets urge us to celebrate Easter. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with its religious context, and £4.76m to do with what Britons annually spend on Easter eggs.

And it’s not just St Patrick’s Day or Easter.

It’s Halloween, Eid, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, back to school, end of term and the granddaddy of them all, Christmas.

What do they all have in common? Commercial potential and a ‘seasonal aisle’ in any supermarket.

Poor old St George just hasn’t got that earning potential, so he’s relegated to the sidelines.

What he needs is a really good brand manger who can inextricably connect him to something reasonably priced but with a good profit-margin that is supported by a multi-million pound advertising and PR campaign until we’re all brainwashed into pretty much forgetting St George and just revelling in the consumerism of it all.

Until then, let’s half-heartedly raise a can of Carling and look forward to the next capitalism-approved celebration we can all truly get our hearts and wallets behind.

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