Learn more about St David’s Day, the feast of St David the patron saint of Wales, held on 1st March.

Who was Saint David?

Saint David, Dewi Sant in Welsh, was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop who was born towards the end of the 5th century. He founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn in Pembrokeshire at the spot where we can now observe St David’s Cathedral. A famous story about St David tells how the ground on which he was standing while he was preaching to a huge crowd rose up so that it became a hill and everyone could see and hear him. David’s fame spread throughout the Celtic world and his foundation at Glyn Rhosyn became an important Christian shrine. His death is recorded on 1st March of –possibly- year 588.

Saint David's Cathedral, © rad100 - Fotolia.com

Saint David’s Day

For centuries, the 1st March has been a national festival. The date was declared a national day of celebration in Wales in the 18th century. It is not a national holiday in the UK and is celebrated by Welsh societies throughout the world. Although 87% of people in Wales wanted it to become a bank holiday as a result of a poll conducted in 2006, the project was rejected by the office of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

What do people do on Saint David’s Day?

Many parades are held every year to commemorate St David. The most important takes place in Cardiff and is always attended by either the British Monarch or the Prince of Wales. Celebrations include concerts, parades and a food festival. Concerts are also held in pubs, clubs and other venues all across Wales. The flag of Saint David can be seen flying throughout Wales on that special day! Welsh people around the world wear one of both the national emblems – a daffodil or a leek.

Celebrating St David, National Assembly for Wales, http://flic.kr/p/6B3fxu, (CC BY 2.0)

Some children in Wales dress in their national costume which consists of a tall black hat, white frilled cap and long dress.

Children with the traditional costume, National Assembly for Wales, http://flic.kr/p/6AXNoe, (CC BY 2.0)

 

Facts about Wales

  • The national emblems of Wales are daffodils and leeks. It is said that St David advised the Welsh to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friends from enemies during the battle with the Saxons.
  • The flag of Wales is a red dragon on a green and white field. It is the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of green and white.
  • The flag of Saint David is a yellow cross on a black background. It also has a military significance, representing the 38th Welsh division in WWII.

The flag of Saint David

  • Many Welsh breweries make special St David’s Day ales. Cardiff brewers Brains describe theirs as a light, daffodil coloured ale.