Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David.
Tradition holds that he died on that day in 588 (or even 589).
At any rate, the 1st March was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.
Saint David (Welsh: Dewi Sant) was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was a scion of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro), at the spot where St David’s Cathedral stands today.
David’s fame as a teacher and ascetic spread throughout the Celtic world. His foundation at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine, and the most important centre in Wales.
The date of Saint David’s death is recorded as 1 March, but the year is uncertain – possibly 588, or 589, as mentioned above.
As his tearful monks prepared for his death, Saint David uttered these words, “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”
So why was St David so important to the Welsh?
There are a lot of prophecies and miracles that St David (Dewi Sant) is said to have performed. One miracle often told is that once while David was preaching to a crowd, those in the far back couldn’t hear him. Because they didn’t have megaphones back then, the story goes that he spread a handkerchief on the ground, stood on it to preach, and all of a sudden he was hovering above the crowd and everyone could hear him.
St David’s Day celebrations on March the 1st usually means singing and eating, and to mark the day, Welsh people around the world wear one or both of the country’s national emblems – a daffodil or leek – and celebrate at special concerts and processions.
Here are 10 facts you may not have known about St David and St David’s Day:
1. Saint David is typically depicted holding a dove, and often standing on a hillock. His symbol is the leek.
2. A Welsh stew, named Cawl and containing lamb and leeks, is traditionally consumed on St. David’s Day.
3. Across Wales on Mar 1 St. David’s Day parades take place, and in bigger cities food festivals, concerts and street parties also occur.
4. Despite the fact that Saint David abstained from drinking and advised others to do the same, a number of Welsh breweries make special St. David’s Day ales. Cardiff brewers Brains describe theirs as ‘a light, daffodil coloured ale, dry hopped with Styrian Goldings to create a thirst quenching spring ale with a refreshing bite and dry hop aroma.’
5. St David came from an aristocratic family in West Wales.
6. His mother is also a saint, Saint Non.
7. His teacher was a saint too! Saint Paulinus
8. He was one of the early saints who helped to spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of Western Britain.
9. His shrine became a great place of pilgrimage; four visits to the shrine at St David’s were considered the equivalent of two to Rome, and one to Jerusalem!
10. In celebration of St David’s Day in Wales, leeks are worn and sometimes eaten. In schools in Wales, the boys take leeks to school and the one with the biggest leek becomes the “cool” kid.
Are there any we’ve missed?
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