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The Saint Honoured by Many

The Day of St. George, or Gjurgjovden, as we call it, is one of the biggest religious holidays in Macedonia. It is connected with many traditions and has many levels of complex cultural meanings. The holiday is celebrated by Orthodox Christians and Roma, but some Muslims also observe it, especially those who converted from Christianity in more recent times, that is since the 18th century. Macedonian Orthodox Church as well as the orthodox churches in some other countries, celebrates it according to the Julian calendar, so that the feast falls on May 6 of our civic Gregorian calendar. The churches using Gregorian calendar celebrate St. George’s Day on April 23, the traditionally accepted date of the Saint’s death in 303 AD.

Although this is a fixed-date holiday, due to the closeness of the movable feast of Easter, it may be postponed to the first Monday after Easter, the so-called Monday of the Bright Week.

Saint George is usually depicted in frescos and icons as a mounted warrior killing a dragon with a spear. This representation has many symbolic and cultural layers. The dragon represents paganism, but also winter, chaos and pure nature. St. George inspired many chivalric orders in the medieval age and strengthened their ethos. The historic personality of the saint speaks of him as a great military commander, whose braveness in battle was highly honoured. However, when he learned that Emperor Diocletian would persecute Christians he revealed his religion and was put to torture. He proved his faith and love towards Christ and died like a martyr, beheaded. Read more …