The day when England barely celebrates its Greek patron saint and sheepishly denies having any national pride. The day when we remember that Christianity, via the story of George slaying the dragon, tacitly acknowledges the existence of dragons. If they weren’t real, how could George slay one? So not believing in dragons would technically seem to be heretical if you’re a Christian.
I’d like it if all the people who think national, tribal or ethnic borders, or where their ancestors may have lived hundreds or thousands of years ago are the most important things in the world and worth dying or killing for just knocked that shit off and did something productive and positive to make the world a better place instead. I’m not at all into patriotism or nationalism of the “bloody foreigners, my country right or wrong” kind, of the blatantly racist and hateful kind, or of the supposedly respectable but still frequently irrational SNP/Plaid Cymru/UKIP kind– incidentally I met Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP once and she reminded me forcibly of Francois Mitterand describing Margaret Thatcher as having the eyes of Caligula… plus you should never ever trust anybody (like Sturgeon) who still has exactly the same hairstyle they had as a teenager, they’re sure to be not at all right in the head– but I still think it would be good if England could have some proper non-xenophobic, non-chippy, inclusive, wholehearted celebrations of English identity and culture like the great traditional yet living and modern celebrations and festivals that other people have in the rest of the world, both nationally and locally. Saint Patrick’s day often gets silly, for example, but it’s usually celebrated without restraint.
As with the British Empire, Japan’s heritage of imperialism and racism (and the lingering, festering vestiges of imperialist and racist belief in a hardcore but vocal minority in the UK and in Japan) is rightly considered problematic to modern consensus, and there’s a lot in their histories that should never be repeated or excused. The two island nations and peoples are in fact very similar in very many other ways; but the modern Japanese pride in themselves and their own culture, and their national determination not to let worthwhile traditions die are definitely not echoed in England. Most English nationalists, racist or otherwise, define themselves primarily by what they’re not (i.e. not foreign, not an immigrant, not Scottish or Welsh or Irish) rather than what they are. The racists might define themselves as primarily white, but “white” is a label and not a culture, or at least not a culture unique to the English.
I think English people tend to downplay or forget the fact that they even have a culture because so much of their intellectual, pragmatic and artistic content is in use by so many other people and is now the common property of everybody else in the globalised world– everything from football, tennis, modern boxing and the business suit (plus most of its derivatives; the shoes, pockets, belt loops, ties and all that go with it) through to plate glass, light bulbs and trains, to Shakespeare, the BBC and The Beatles… absolutely massive chunks of the modern world’s art, science, design, literature, politics and philosophy, even the thing we’re using now, the World Wide Web and the language I’m writing in, one of the world’s de facto common languages. Just as the modern English owe a lot to the Classical culture of the Greeks and Romans, to the Danes, Saxons, Normans and so on, the modern planet Earth wouldn’t be what it is without the scaffolding of English culture.
I’d say that being the parent country of so many things that so many people in the world want to share in is at least one reason to celebrate being English.