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St David's Day

When is St David’s Day?

St David’s Day is celebrated on 1st March each year. The date does not alter.

What is St David’s Day?

St David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, patron saint of Wales. As a young man David became a monk and in later life he established a very strict religious community in a part of west Wales now known as St David’s. Here he and his monks lived a life of such austerity that they ploughed the fields by hand rather than using oxen and ate a simple diet without meat or beer. It is said that David consumed only leeks and water, for which he became known as Dewi Dyfrwr, meaning David the Water drinker. David also founded many religious centres in England including one at Glastonbury. He even made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he was made an archbishop.

St David's Day - Daffodils and Leeks

Today St David’s Day is a proud celebration of all things Welsh. Traditionally the symbols of a daffodil or a leek are worn by Welsh people across the world. Parades take place in many Welsh cities and even around the world: the largest is in Cardiff where young and old march through the streets, some dressed in national costume, others in Welsh rugby or football shirts. Some wear a leek or daffodil pinned to their lapel and many wave the red dragon flag of Wales, while bands play and choirs sing the Welsh national anthem. In schools and halls, poets and singers compete at traditional festivals of music and poetry called eisteddfodau. On the day’s menu is an array of local produce and traditional food such as cawl (soup made with lamb and vegetables), bara brith (spiced tea bread), welsh cakes, welsh lamb and welsh rarebit.

Why is St David’s Day on 1st March?

The date of St David’s Day – 1st March – is believed to be the date of Saint David’s death in 589. In his last words to his followers David said: ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.’ Even today, many Welsh people respect the maxim: ‘Do the little things in life.’ David was buried in Pembrokeshire at the site of St David’s Cathedral.

When was St David’s Day first celebrated?

St David’s Day has been celebrated since the 12th century when Pope Callixtus recognised David’s good work and declared him a saint.

St David's Day - Flag of St David

Interesting facts about St David’s Day

Unlike the patron saints for England, Scotland and Ireland, Saint David was actually born in Wales. Legend has it that he was born on the cliffs of Pembrokeshire while a great storm raged all around.

Many miracles have been attributed to him, the most famous occurring when he was preaching in the village of Llandewi Brefi, where he caused the ground to rise underneath him so that everyone in the crowd could see and hear him.

A white dove is the emblem of Saint David and is often depicted with him in portraits and stained-glass windows. Saint David also has his own flag showing a yellow cross on a black background.

St David’s Day is not a bank holiday although in the last decade there have been several petitions and campaigns which aim to change this.

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