Happy Saint George’s Day. Not every country celebrates it, but many do, like Portugal, Serbia, England, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Palestine, Greece, and us here in Newfoundland.

There was a time the day was a real doozy – as big an affair, almost, as Christmas. But Why? Who was this man we still talk about nearly 2000 years later?

The best estimate is that George lived from 280-303 AD, and he’s cited as a champion of immigration as much as Christianity, because he really got around, spreading his Christian religion as he did so, particularly to Western civilizations.

He was born to a Greek father and Syrian mother in Turkey, and eventually became a Roman solider. One of their finest. But back then, the Roman Empire worshiped Pagan Gods, so George was persecuted for his religious beliefs, and when he refused to denounced his Christian faith, his head was chopped off (hence the Christian martyr status).

The year was 303, and the Diocletian was really cracking down on this growing “Christianity” trend. So much so they were expelling Christian soldiers from their army. But George was such a valued soldier, instead of evicting or murdering him, they tried bribing him with offers of wealth to convert.

He still declined, and it was off with his head. Everyone loves a martyr, so he’s still talked about to this day, and is one of Christianity’s most venerated saints.

King Edward the III was such a big fan of his story, he made Saint George the Patron Saint of England in 1327, even though George was not from England (despite common misconception).

What’s This about Him Being a Slayer of Dragons?

Story goes, this happened in Libya. Apparently, there was a “plague-infested lake” with a dragon dwelling in it, feeding off local townspeople. These townspeople started feeding it two sheep a day, to deter it from eating humans, until they ran out of sheep.

Once the sheep were gone, they decided to feed it children based on a lottery – if your kid’s name was drawn that morning, it was to be fed to the dragon. When the king’s daughter’s name was drawn, he panicked and offered the people all his gold and silver to spare her life. They refused.

Luckily for the king, mighty George just so happened to be riding through town (as mentioned, he was big on roaming and travelling). George said to Libya’s king, “Sure I can just kill the dragon b’y, if you want?” and he did.

But here’s the twist. He said he’d kill the dragon if all the townspeople would convert to Christianity. Supposedly, 15,000 people converted that day.