The twenty third of April is a very significant date on the English calendar.
It is the date on which it is believed that William Shakespeare, surely Englands greatest ever playwright, was born and also the date on which he died fifty two years later while supping his last ale at an avonside tavern in his home town of Stratford upon Avon.
Queen Elizabeth I, the English monarch during most of William Shakespeares life, encouraged (and probably commissioned) him to write a play called the Merry Wives of Windsor about Falstaff, her favourite character in all the Shakespeare plays.
This play was performed for the first time on 23rd April 1597 before an appreciative audience gathered at Windsor Castle close by to London for the celebration of the Knight of the Garter.
The Knight of the Garter is a once a year event and has its origins in commemoration of an English knight templar called George who supposedly slain a dragon in defence ofpoor people in a faraway land in the middle ages.
George became popularised asthe patron saint of England and the Knight of the Garter has been a commemoration of that momentous event in England since 1348.
The decoration and regalia of the Garter is awarded at the pleasure of the monarch as a personal gift to recipients from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries.
The Twenty Third of April is also celebrated by the English as St. Georges Day but it is not a public holiday.
Shakespeare’s birthday is however, lavishly and proudly celebrated in Stratford upon Avon each year with a number of events held including the outdoor performance of a number of his plays, a literary festival and an athletics marathon when swarms of people come from all over the world to enjoy.
The Twenty Third of April is a truly special day for all English folk and especially for enthusiasts of the plays and life of William Shakespeare.