Saint David’s Day
Saint David’s Day
Saint David's Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and
falls on 1 March each year. The date of 1 March was chosen in remembrance of the
death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since
then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th
Cross-party support resulted in the National Assembly for Wales voting
unanimously to make St. David's Day a public holiday in 2000, a stance supported
by the Wales TUC. A poll conducted for Saint David's Day in 2006 found that 87%
of people in Wales wanted it to be a bank holiday, with 65% prepared to sacrifice a
different bank holiday to ensure this. A petition in 2007 to make St. David's Day a
bank holiday was rejected by office of the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
The significance of St. David’s Day
Dewi Sant – St. David was born towards the end of the fifth century. He was a
scion of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community
at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of 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
Dewi Sant's death is recorded as 1 March, but the year is uncertain – possibly 588.
As his tearful monks prepared for his death St 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'.
For centuries the first of March has been a national festival. St David was
recognised as a national patron saint at the height of Welsh resistance to the
In 2003 in the United States, St. David's Day was recognised officially as the
national day of the Welsh, and on 1 March the Empire State Building was floodlit
in the national colours, red, green and white. It is invariably celebrated by Welsh
societies throughout the world with dinners, parties, recitals and concerts.
To celebrate this day, people wear a symbol of either a leek, or daffodil. The leek
arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other
from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An
alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil.
In the poem Armes Prydain, composed in the early to mid-tenth century AD, the
anonymous author prophesises that the Cymry (the Welsh people) will unite and
join an alliance of fellow-Celts to repel the Anglo-Saxons, under the banner of St
David: A lluman glân Dewi a ddyrchafant (And they will raise the pure banner of
St. David’s Day events
Every year parades are held in Wales to commemorate St. David. The largest of
these is held in Cardiff.
To mark St. David's Day, and their return from a six-month tour of Afghanistan,
soldiers from the Royal Welsh Regiment provided The Changing of the
Guard ceremony at Cardiff Castle’s south gate on 27 and 28 February 2010.
On 1 March 2010, the seventh National St David’s Day Parade took place
in Cardiff city centre. Celebrations included concerts, a parade and a food festival.
The food festival ran from 26 February with the third annual Really Welsh Food
Festival in Queen Street, featuring all Welsh produce. Following the parade, a
number of Welsh entertainers performed from a bandstand and in the
evening Cardiff Central Library provided free entertainment and food.
St David's Hall staged its traditional St David’s Day concert in the evening of 1
March with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC National Chorus of
Wales and youth choruses.
Public celebrations of St. David's Day are becoming more commonplace. In many
towns an annual parade through the centre of town is now held. Concerts are held
in pubs, clubs, and other venues.
In the town of Colwyn Bay in north Wales, an annual parade through the centre of
town is now held with several hundred citizens and schoolchildren taking part.
Other events are centred around the parade.
Swansea inaugurated a St David's Week festival in 2009 with a range of musical,
sporting and cultural events held throughout the city to mark the national day.
Children in Wales take part in school concerts or eisteddfodau, with recitation and
singing being the main activities. Formerly, a half-day holiday was afforded to
school children. Officially this custom does not continue, although the practice can
vary on a school-to-school basis.
Many Welsh people wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their
lapel to celebrate St. David: thedaffodil (a generic Welsh symbol which is in season
during March) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol) on this day. The
association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have
similar names in Welsh, Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Pedr (daffodil, literally
"Peter's leek"). Younger girls sometimes wear traditional Welsh costumes to
school. This costume consists of a long woollen skirt, white blouse, woollen shawl
and a Welsh hat.
The flag of Saint David often plays a central role in the celebrations and can be
seen flying throughout Wales.
Cawl is frequently prepared and consumed on St. David's Day.