1st March 2021
St. David’s Day takes place on the 1st of March every year, and is celebrated as the patron saint day of Wales. It has been recognised since the 12th century, and St. David even has his own flag – a yellow cross on a black background.
To mark the day, Welsh people around the world wear one or both of Wales’s national emblems – a daffodil and a leek. Children in schools often dress up in traditional Welsh costumes and enjoy Welsh activities, even a parade! Cardiff city centre usually has the St. David’s Day parade and you can see our Facebook photo album here.
Patron saints are chosen to be special protectors or guardians over all areas of life. Let’s learn more about St. David.
St David was born in the year 500, the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, King of Ceredigion. According to legend, his mother St Non gave birth to him on a Pembrokeshire clifftop during a fierce storm. The spot is marked by the ruins of Non’s Chapel, and a nearby holy well is said to have healing powers.
St David became a renowned preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Brittany and southwest England – including, possibly, the abbey at Glastonbury. St David reputedly made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, from which he brought back a stone that now sits in an altar at St Davids Cathedral, built on the site of his original monastery.
Leeks are worn in remembrance of St. David’s guidance in a battle against their common enemy, the Saxons. Supposedly, he instructed the Welsh warriors to wear leeks, so that they could be distinguished from their opponents. The Welsh won the battle, and leeks became a national symbol.
Daffodils are one of the first flowers of spring, and the most symbolic. They begin blooming in early March, which coincides with St. David’s Day. Funnily enough, the Welsh for leek, Cenhinen, sounds very similar to the Welsh for daffodil, Cenhinen Pedr, which translates to “Peter’s Leek”.
St David and his monks followed a simple, austere life. They ploughed the fields by hand, rather than using oxen, and refrained from eating meat or drinking beer. St David himself was reputed to have consumed only leeks and water – which is perhaps why the leek became a national symbol of Wales.
The most famous miracle associated with St David took place when he was preaching to a large crowd in Llanddewi Brefi. When people at the back complained that they could not hear him, the ground on which he stood rose up to form a hill. A white dove, sent by God, settled on his shoulder.
His last words to his followers before his death are thought to have been: “Be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do.” The phrase gwenwch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd – ‘Do the little things in life’ – is still a well-known phrase in Wales.
Most years, we invite our students to join St. David’s Celebrations with different activities and festivities at the Academy. They can learn more about Welsh culture, wear the traditional daffodil symbol and taste traditional Welsh food like Welsh cakes!
Every year we also join the Collective Fundraiser: Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal that helps this incredible cause for terminally ill people and their families on St. David’s Day.
This year we continue to support Marie Curie’s work and we encourage our students and everyone to join, donating online at this link.
St David illustration, by Jonathan Edwards
© Jonathan Edwards jonathan-e.com
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