1st March 2017
Today, people in Wales and those of Welsh origin celebrate the life of their patron saint, St. David. March 1st is a day of celebration of both St. David’s life and of the Welsh culture in Wales and in countries as far away as Canada, Argentina and the United States. Many people attend special church services, parades, choral recitals or Welsh literature readings. On the day schools plan celebrations, often involving choral singing.
The Welsh flag, a red dragon on a white and green background, is displayed prominently and a festive mood often prevails. Children, particularly girls, and some adults wear traditional costume. Other people may pin a daffodil or a leek to their clothes, as these are symbols of Wales. The traditional meal on St. David’s day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leeks and other locally grown produce.
St. David’s day is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom or countries such as Canada and the United States. Therefore government offices, schools, post offices and businesses are open. However, it is a day of celebration for many schools and businesses that will have a special programme for the day. Some villages and towns hold parades and street parties.
St. David plays a very important role in Welsh culture but little is known about his life. It is believed that he lived to be 100 years old and that he died in 589 but the first texts on his life only appeared around five hundred years after his death. This means that it is difficult to tell which aspects of the St David’s story are true and which are legend. He was supposed to have been very gentle, yet physically strong and tall.
St. David travelled widely throughout Wales, Cornwall in the south-west of England, Brittany in France, possibly to Ireland and Jerusalem. He founded several churches and a monastery in Wales. He eventually became an archbishop. St. David was canonized in 1120 and March 1st was included in the church calendar as St. David’s day. People started making pilgrimages to St. David’s cathedral after he was canonised. The cathedral can still be visited in west Wales today.
So, if you are Welsh or just visiting Wales, enjoy the festivities of the life of St. David and have a great St. David’s day.
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