… Just inspiration to help to celebrate its culture.
What does the word nation mean to you?
Here at Homepage Towers, we endeavour to reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom and its component nations.
This is why we chose to feature articles celebrating St David’s, St Andrew’s and St Patrick’s Day – and St George’s Day yesterday.
The first three saints’ days seemed to pass without too much anxiety on our part – it was easy to devise headlines to celebrate the culture of the Welsh, Scottish and Irish. However, when it came to St George’s Day, a new set of qualms presented itself.
What other word can you use to refer to England? Should the words national or nation be used? England is a nation, but also part of a wider kingdom. And when people in the United Kingdom are asked to state their nationality, the correct answer is British. Therefore, when in the context of the wider MSN UK audience, the word would automatically refer to Great Britain.
This alone would not pose too much of a problem. But how to illustrate our St George’s Day articles threw up a different kind of difficulty. The symbols of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, whether flags or traditional icons, were easy to display without possible misinterpretation. But when it came to celebrating English culture, the St George’s flag – combined with headlines about celebrating the country’s heritage – tended to conjure up impressions of far-right political campaigning, which was certainly not the message we wanted to convey.
We did use the St George’s flag in the end, but opted for a headline that bore no mention of England or national pride. It got the message across, but I was surprised at how many more pitfalls there appeared to be when writing a headline about England than any other nation in the UK. Was it misplaced sensitivity about displaying English patriotism?
As an English person living in England I see no problem in celebrating the positive side to this country’s culture, yet somehow I found it much more difficult to reflect this than I expected.
Have modern-day events associated with the St George’s cross, such as football hooliganism and far-right extremism, somehow tarnished the image of the flag? Or is it simply deemed cooler and more politically correct to celebrate Irish, Scottish and Welsh culture these days?
Let us know your thoughts.