At last! A red cross that doesn’t denote plague or racism

For some reason St George’s Day isn’t as easy to celebrate as St Patrick’s Day or St Andrew’s Day. This may be due to the fine line between patriotism and nationalism that exists. For example, one is never sure whether to enter a pub that has the St George’s Cross hung outside all year round. Even with the post-Olympic glow, being English doesn’t hold the same seduction as being French, for example.

Our neighbours manage to throw a good party, although the Guinness-isation of one country’s patron saint does help. Come St Patrick’s Day, everyone suddenly reveals that they are a bit Irish, thanks to being related to Grandma’s sister’s dog’s neighbour, and turns up to any event that day with their token Irish friend. It’s hard to imagine any international desperately trying to trace their family heritage back to England in quite the same way.

However, having no major traditions or drinks companies associated with St George’s Day presents a unique opportunity to create new traditions from scratch. This is what Martin Popplewell from The Red Lion is trying to do by re-enacting the legend of St George outdoors for the second year running.

For those who need a reminder about the story of St George and the dragon, the medieval legend goes that a dragon built its nest close to the water supply of the Libyan town of Silene. Every time someone wanted access to the water, they had to distract the dragon with the offering of a sheep. This was not a ‘sustainable solution long-term’, as a politician might say, and eventually the supply of sheep ran out.

The only other option was to sacrifice one of the females from the town. Through the drawing of straws, it was decided the Princess Cleolinda was to be sacrificed to the dragon. In a classic case of fantastic timing, a knight in shining armour rode up, jumped off his horse, slayed the dragon and thus saved the fair maiden. The townspeople were said to be so pleased they abandoned paganism in favour of Christianity.

There may not be any religious reformation in 2013, but the flag-waving procession should meet outside Abigail’s shop around the corner from Nørreport at 5pm. In Denmark, a country that rolls out the Dannebrog for any occasion, including birthdays, it’s easier to parade down the street waving flags without feeling like you’re part of a BNP rally.

Outside Abigail’s, the food shop that keeps British stomachs from feeling homesick, the maiden will be snatched away by the dragon and taken into captivity at The Red Lion pub. Fear not as the knight in shining armour, closely followed by his faithful steed, Jon the bartender (fast becoming a tradition in its own right), will also make their way to the pub in order to rescue the fair maiden.

Once her life has been saved, then the evening’s celebrations can really begin. To a soundtrack of British icons from the 1950s onwards (think Pink Floyd, Madness, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bowie), punters will be able to scoff a pie, peas and a pint for 99 kroner, with 10 percent off all beers for the entire evening.

Whilst The Cider House will not be giving out free samples this year, they will be debuting Sheppy’s cider on draught, as well as supplying their secret recipe mulled cider, Høst Vintercider, in order to warm those cold, flag-waving hands. Add a shot of five-year-old Somerset brandy for an extra kick if required. Later in the evening singer Neil Brophy will perform a set of classic covers, without any of the Oasis shtick that is so often associated with British cover artists. Between the food, drink and the music, the evening promises something for everyone, including even the most reluctant patriot.

St George’s Day
Slaying of the dragon procession starts Tue 17:00 at Abigail’s, Peder Hvitfeldts str 17, Cph K, finishes at The Red Lion, Nikolajgade 18, Cph K;

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