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The flag of England dates back to the early Crusades. St George who slew the dragon was a popular figure among English Crusaders, who brought this cult back home, and changed the official patron saint of England to St George from Edward the Confessor. St George's Cross has no legal status, but is used by the Church of England and English Sport teams, as well as Private citizens and local authorities. It is also a central emblem in the Union Jack.
The flag of Scotland known as St Andrew's Cross is one of the oldest flags in British history. According to Legend the Christian Apostle St Andrew was crucified on an X shaped cross. The legend of the origins of the flag is from the 9th Century battle where the Scots were fighting the Picts. The story goes that a strange white X shape appeared in the sky above the Scottish troops, who taking it as a sign from St Andrew were inspired on to victory. The white X on sky blue field is derived from this legend. The flag of Scotland is used by the Scottish regional government, local authorities and private citizens, as well as being a main component in the Union Jack.
The red dragon is a symbol of Wales that dates back to the 4th Century. The modern flag has its basis in the battle standard of Henry VII, who is said to have used a standard bearing a red dragon on the Tudor colours of green and white at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. In 1807 a design based on this became the Royal Badge of Wales, a motto was added in 1953. «Красный дракон вдохновляет действие» (валл. «Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn»). The current flag is derived from this badge. In 1959 the Government started using this flag. The Welsh flag is used by Welsh sports teams, regional government, local authorities and private citizens.
Northern Ireland Technically never a flag, the Ulster Banner is the heraldic banner of the coat of arms of the Northern Ireland Parliament. This flag ceased having any official status when the NI Parliament was dissolved in 1973. The origins of this flag is from the provisional arms of Ulster the most northern Irish province. According to legend the origin of the red hand of Ulster comes from a boat race in ancient times to decide who should become King of Ulster. The first to touch the shore would win. One potential king so desired the kingship that, upon seeing that he was losing the race, cut off his hand and threw it to the shore thus winning the kingship. The star represents the provinces six counties and has no affiliation to the star of David. This flag is used by N.Irish sports teams (notably national football and Commonwealth games teams and sometimes for N.Irish golfers and snooker players) and private citizens.
However the British Government sometimes use St Patrick's cross (as it is in the Union Jack) alongside the other three flags to represent N.Ireland, some sports teams also use St Patricks Cross(it also being less controversial than other flags). The NI district of the Boy's Brigade sometimes wear St Patrick's Cross on their uniform, but use the Ulster Banner on their website. The only official flag of Northern Ireland is the Union Flag, neither St Patrick's Cross or the Ulster Banner currently have any legal or official status in Northern Ireland.
Because the red diagonals of the Cross of St Patrick are counter-changed rather than symmetrical on the Union Flag it is possible to fly the flag upside-down. Traditionally an upside down flag is a signal of distress or even an insult, hence why it is important to know how to display the flag right. Basically the red diagonals towards the hoist (end at the flag pole) are closer to the blue at the bottom leaving a large white gap between them and the blue above them. The opposite is the case at the fly end.
England - Saint George Saint George is the Patron Saint of England. He was born in Cappadocia of Christian parents about 1600 years ago. He joined the Roman army at the age of seventeen and rose to a high rank, and although he served a pagan emperor he never forgot his faith. The Emperor Diocletian gave him many important missions and it is thought that he may have come to England with the Romans and while there heard that the emperor was putting all Christians to death. Saint George went back to Rome to help and pleaded with the emperor to spare their lives.The emperor did all he could to persuade George to give up his faith, but he refused and was finally beheaded.
The Crusaders, fighting many years later in the East, heard the stories of George and chose him as their Patron Saint and took his banner as their own. The story of the Crusader's Patron Saint became famous and eventually he was chosen as the Patron Saint of England. St. George's Day - 23rd April St. George is also the Patron Saint of Scouts and most Scouts attend a special service around the time of his day to remember him. The rose is the emblem of England. It was supposed to be George's favourite flower and it is said that the churchyard where he was buried was full of roses. Saint George's own emblem is the dragon. The story of George fighting the dragon is a way of telling of how good can overcome evil.
Wales - Saint David Saint David is the Patron Saint of Wales. He was born about 462 AD. He was born of noble parents and had the best education available learning from Paulinus the scribe. An old story tells that when Paulinus was going blind, David touched his eyes and restored his sight. He also had a beautiful singing voice. After David finished his studies, he settled in Dyfed near the sea and here he built his home, a monastery of stone. You can still travel today by the road David and his friends made from the sea to the town where the Cathedral of Saint David now stands. He is often depicted with a dove on his shoulder because one story tells how when he was speaking on one occasion at a large meeting a white dove flew down and settled on his shoulder. .
Scotland - Saint Andrew Saint Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. He was born in Capernaum and was a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee. Together with his older brother Peter he became one of Jesus' first disciples. After Jesus' resurrection Saint Andrew made many journeys by land and sea, teaching and preaching. He died for his faith, although just where and when is not certain, but he was crucified on a diagonal cross because it is said that he did not feel himself Worthy enough to suffer on a cross the same shape as his Lord. Many years later his bones were brought to Scotland for safe keeping and were buried in a shrine where the town of St. Andrews now stands.
Saint Andrew's Day - 30th November The cross Saint Andrew was crucified on was diagonal - in the shape of an X - and that is why Saint Andrew's flag is like it is. The thistle is the emblem of Scotland. There is a story that when the Scots were defending their country against invaders they were encamped upon a hill one night. The Danes came up in their boats to make a surprise attack. They crept up to the Scottish camp barefoot, but one of the men trod on a thistle and gave out a yell of pain! The Scots awoke and routed the enemy. Saint Andrew's own emblem is a fish. This is because he was a fisherman.
Ireland - Saint Patrick Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but in fact he was not born there. We do not know for certain where he was born except that it was somewhere on the west coast of Britain probably in Scotland towards the end of the 4th Century. As a young boy he was kidnapped by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland where he tended sheep on a mountainside. Some years later Patrick managed to escape and fled to France where he became a priest. One night in a dream he heard God telling him to return to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity. He did so and began travelling throughout Ireland preaching. He eventually became a bishop. Many of his followers took Christianity to other lands.
Ireland today has no snakes, except in zoos, and it is said that Patrick drove them all from the country. At last as a very old man, greatly loved by the Irish, he died there. It is believed that he is buried near Downpatrick. Saint Patrick's Day - 17th March The shamrock is the emblem of Ireland. It grows in the fields there and the story is told that Saint Patrick, trying to explain that God is a Trinity - as Christians believe, picked up a shamrock leaf at his feet and used it to demonstrate the idea of one in three and three in one. Saint Patrick's own emblem is a bishop's mitre.
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