St George’s Day is also celebrated in Ethiopia – a country I was lucky enough to be able to visit last November. Here are 6 facts about the importance of St George in Ethiopia:-
1. In Ethiopia St George is known as Patron Saint of Saints and the main celebrations take place on the 1st May (with all saints celebrated on a monthly basis). On this day people might take a break from the day to day tasks such as washing, cleaning and milling of flour. This is the same day as Labor Day and is a public holiday.
2. The Imperial flag of Ethiopia has green, yellow, and red horizontal stripes of equal size with a gold lion marching east, carrying a cross and wearing the Imperial Ethiopian crown. On the Imperial Standard flag there is an image of St George slaying the dragon on one side.
3. Many buildings are dedicated to St George. One of the most famous – often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world – is St George’s Church (or Bete Giyorgis in Amharic) in Lalibela – Constructed from a variation of limestone, tufa, carved entirely out of the rock and topped with the dramatic image of the St George Cross. Colourful paintings of St George can also be admired on the walls of Ora Kidane Merhet Church, Lake Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
Side view and view of roof of Church of Saint George
4. The cult of Saint George reached Ethiopia in the 15th century, when his story was translated into Amharic. The exact origin of his cult spreading to Ethiopia is unclear; some believe it came from the Greek legend of Perseus, which may have originated in Ethiopia, and who, like Saint George, slew an evil creature to save a woman. Others believe it came from the Coptic Church of Egypt, which featured equestrian saints, which include Saint George.
Painting at Ora Kidane Merhet Church and Ethiopian Children with their own Saint George Cross
5. St George’s beer is dedicated to the Saint. Brewed by Kolmbolcha Brewery this malty 4.5% beer has a distinctive yellow label featuring a picture of St George on horseback slaying the dragon.
6. Addis Ababa’s main football club is known as Saint George FC.