Tuesday, 16 March 2010

St Patrick's Day - but what about St George's Day?

I think my ancestry (Phillips) on my dad's side goes back to Wales, but that is way, way back, more than 200 years ago at the very least. Most of my ancestry is English though. My mum's great-grandmother was born in Scotland. My dad's Grandfather, Thomas Phillips, was born on 6th January 1879 in Bloxwich http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloxwich near Walsall. He, his siblings and parents came up here in 1890 for work in the coal mines. Thomas died on 10th January 1944. My Grandmother's mother's ancestors go back to York (to 1800) and her father's go back to Cleckheaton, or to the mid 18th Century at least.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 17th March) is St Patrick's Day. No doubt towns and cities across England will be teaming with revellers celebrating, with some of them claiming to be Irish or saying that they have Irish ancestry, though in most cases, the link is very tenuous. I have no Irish ancestry in me at all. Neither do I have any links with Ireland. I have never been there. I would even go as far as saying that on St Patrick's Day, there are some people who even claim to have Irish ancestry when they don't, because for some reason, it is sexy, romantic or fashionable to be Irish.

I personally can't see what is so great about being Irish or having Irish ancestry. Alternatively, I can't see what is wrong with being Irish or having Irish ancestry either. Having Scottish ancestry, Welsh ancestry, English ancestry, German ancestry or Russian ancestry or black ancestry is nothing to be ashamed of either. It is part of your history. To me, being Irish or Scottish or Welsh or German or any other nationality is like coming from Leeds, or Sheffield, or Manchester or London or Norwich. It isn't good or bad. It is just there.

What annoys me is nobody celebrates St George's Day, 23rd April. It is virtually ignored in England. St Patrick's Day has been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903. St George's Day should be one in England. The more public holidays or Bank Holidays the better as far as I am concerned. St Andrews Day, 30th November, should be a public holiday in Scotland and St David's Day, 1st March, should be one in Wales.

As well as St George's Day, another day that should be a public holiday in the UK should be the 11th November - Armistice Day. It was a public holiday in 1918 when the guns fell silent, and it should be one permenantly now. It also remembers the sacrifices were made in those wars and the civilian population who were killed.

What is my personal identity? A white, male, Aspie, who is from a solidly working-class background. No matter what I do in my life or how rich or poor I become, I will always be working-class, and I will always be Aspie. Both are part of me.

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