I corrected him and said that Easter would be on 23 April, and it can never be on St George's Day.
That might seem odd, but have a look at the Church of England's Common Worship which lists how feasts should be transferred.
With Easter being on a luni-solar calendar (and the timing of Lent, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday depending on it), the year not being made of a complete number of weeks, and other festivals (especially Christmas) being fixed, then there are going to be clashes.
Easter is a powerful thing in this respect as it sweeps clear anything else. Anything falling on a Sunday between the First Sunday of Lent (6 weeks before Easter) and Trinty Sunday (8 weeks after Easter) has to be transferred - normally to the Monday. But there is also a 15-day period, from Palm Sunday to the Second Sunday of Easter, where everything not related to Easter is moved.
Given how late Easter can be, it is clear this can include St George's Day.
Common Worship gives the rules as:
When St George's Day or St Mark's Day [25 April] falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, it is transferred to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. If both fall in this period, St George's Day is transferred to the Monday and St Mark's Day to the Tuesday.
So, what do this mean in practice? Easter can fall between 22 March (which it next does in 2285) and 25 April (which it next does in 2038). If 23 April is a Sunday then we have Easter on 26 March, 2 April, 9 April, 16 April or 23 April.
During the period from 2000 to 4000, the most common day for Easter is 10 April (83 times) - although this doesn't happen next until 2039. How often do these Easters occur and what happens to St George's Day?:
- 26 March - 58 times (next is 2062). 23 April is then the Fifth Sunday of Easter and St George's Day is transferred to Monday 24 April
- 2 April - 51 times (next is 2051). 23 April is then the Fourth Sunday of Easter and St George's Day is transferred to Monday 24 April
- 9 April - 74 times (next is 2023). 23 April is then the Third Sunday of Easter and St George's Day is transferred to Monday 24 April
- 16 April - 76 times (next is 2017). 23 April is then the Second Sunday of Easter and St George's Day is transferred to Monday 24 April
- 23 April - 22 times (next is 2079). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 1 May
St George's Day in May raises an interesting issue relating to the idea of a St George's Day Bank Holiday, which I will come to later.
The next set of dates is when 23 April is not a Sunday but is within a week of Easter. Hence Easter falling on or after 17 April:
- 17 April - 63 times (next is 2022). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 25 April or Tueaday 26 April (curiously, the guidance in Common Worship is unclear as St Mark's Day does not fall within a week of Easter Day. Although from memory, in 2011, Easter Day was on 24 April and St Philip's & St James' Day [1 May - which was the Second Sunday of Easter] was moved to Wednesday 4 May not not to Monday 2 May - with St George's Day being 2 May and St Mark's Day 3 May - so I will assume that St George's Day is on 25 April and St Mark's Day is moved to 26 April)
- 18 April - 61 times (next is 2049). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 26 April
- 19 April - 71 times (next is 2071). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 27 April
- 20 April - 78 times (next is 2014). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 28 April
- 21 April - 73 times (next is 2019). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 29 April
- 22 April - 42 times (next is 2057). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 30 April
- 24 April - 36 times (next is 2095). St George's Day is transferred to Monday 2 May
- 25 April - 21 times. St George's Day is transferred to Monday 3 May
So, in this period of 2,001 years, St George's Day is on:
- 23 April - 1,275 times
- 24 April - 259 times
- 25 April - 63 times
- 26 April - 61 times
- 27 April - 71 times
- 28 April - 78 times
- 29 April - 73 times
- 30 April - 42 times
- 1 May - 22 times
- 2 May - 36 times
- 3 May - 21 times
So, just under 64% of the time, St George's Day falls on 23 April.
One thing to note is that 79 times it is in May. Not just any day in May, but the first Monday in May.
The Banking & Financial Dealings Act 1971 sets the current rules for Bank Holidays (the Trades Union Congress has produced a useful guide to the history of Bank Holidays). Some are set in legislation, but others can be declared by the Queen at a meeting of the Privy Council, e.g. for the Diamond Jubilee or the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The "May Day" Bank Holiday - the first Monday in May - falls into this category. This year it's 6 May, as declared at a Privy Council meeting last May. By convention it is the first Monday in May, and hence, some years, it coincides with St George's Day.
There are calls for a St George's Day Bank Holiday, with a campaigning group set up. In the 2010-12 session, there was a St George's Day & St David's Day Bill introduced by Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative MP for Stratford-on-Avon, which was discussed in the House of Commons. With regards to St George's Day, the proposals were:
- If 23 April was a working day (i.e. between Monday and Friday, but not Good Friday or Easter Monday) then that would be a Bank Holiday
- If 23 April were a Saturday (but not the day before Easter Day) then Friday 22 April would be a Bank Holiday
- If 23 April were a Sunday (but not Easter Day) then Monday 24 April would be a Bank Holiday
- If 23 April were between Good Friday and Easter Monday then the "Secretary of State" (preumably the Culture, Media & Sport Secretary) would determine the date
There is one objection to this idea, which is that there can be a Bank Holiday overload. If Easter Day is 23 April or later, then we have two Bank Holiday weekends (a 4-day one and a 3-day one) in succession. Throwing St George into the mix increases this.
As St George's Day and May Day are traditional English festivals, I wonder if the solution is to have a single celebration, a Bank Holiday combining them. 27 April is the midpoint, and we have a tradition of Bank Holidays being on a Monday, so the Monday nearest to that could be it. And that would be the last Monday in April.
If that is Easter Monday (which would happen if Easter Day was on 23 April or later) then move the St George's Day & May Day Bank Holiday to the last Tuesday in April.