For those of you who are not Welsh, can I just tell you that today, March 1st, is St David’s Day (the feast of Dewi Sant). St David has been the patron Saint of Wales since the 12th Century. In Wales this is a cause for dancing, feasting, parading and of course singing. Welsh school children wear either a leek or a daffodil on this day to celebrate. Girls, especially those of nursery school age, can go to school wearing the traditional Welsh costume with the tall black hat, shawl and black skirt.
Unfortunately, St David’s day is not a Bank Holiday. This idea was rejected by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in 2007. However, many Welsh children get a half day off to sing and recite poetry in mini-concerts or Eisteddfods. In many larger towns and cities, like Aberystwyth, Swansea and Cardiff, there are St David’s Day parades.
St David’s Day is characterised by singing, dancing and telling stories. Traditional food include: Cawl (a leek, ham and potato soup), cockles, laverbread and Welsh bacon, Welsh Cakes (a superior drop scone), Bara Brith (Welsh tea bread) and a nice shot of Chwysgi (Welsh whiskey from Brecon).
The Leek and the Daffodil
The link between Wales and the leek is dubious. Most believe that it was used by Welsh warriors as a cap badge in battle to show friend from foe. St David is believed to have advised the Britons, on the eve of a battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps so they could be recognised easily. This ensured a great victory. Some say that at the Battle of Agincourt, Welsh archers were distinguished from the French by leeks in their caps. In any case, soldiers in Welsh regiments traditionally eat a raw leek on St David’s Day.
So why the daffodil? Possibly, the daffodil is used as an emblem because the word for daffodil and for leek are the same in Welsh (Cenhinen = Leek, Cenhinen Pedr = Daffodil). This confusion means that both are the national emblem. Some say the daffodil is encouraged more by the English government, as it is not associated with the defeat of Saxons.
St David’s Day
From the Welsh half of PackThePJs, ‘Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus’ or Happy St David’s Day!
‘Pob dydd, pan dwi’n deffro, dwi’n dweud diolch i Dduw fy mod i’n Gymraeg’, Cymru am Byth’.