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St David’s Day 2020, Wales, UK
We’ve all heard of St Patrick’s Day, but how many of you know of St David’s Day?
The much neglected patron saint of the principality of Wales is celebrated on 1 March each year.
Who Was St David?
The patron saint of Wales is also the patron saint of doves. He is often pictured holding a dove standing on a small hill or with one on his shoulder (as below).
Known as Dewi Sant in Welsh, he was born in the town of Caerfai, Pembrokshire the son of Sant, a prince of Cardigan, and St Non, the daughter of a chieftain, somewhere around the year 500.
He is also reputed to be the nephew of King Arthur.
Despite his noble origins, David lived a parsimonious life, noted for being both a vegetarian and a teetotaller – so perhaps he should also be the patron saint of January. He was also known as Dewi Dyfrwr or David the Waterman.
In addition to founding 12 monasteries he is renowned for performing a series of miracles, including raising the ground at the Synod of Brefi so that his sermon could be heard by all those who had gathered there.
He is noted for saying, “Do the little things”, or “Gwnewch y pethau bychain” in Welsh.
Some St David’s Day Facts
The day commemorates the saint’s death on 1 March, 589, more than 1,400 years ago.
However, it was not until the 18th century that the day was declared a national day in Wales.
St David is the only UK patron Saint in the UK who was actually born in the country where he is held as a patron saint.
His shrine is in St Davids, which is also the smallest city in the UK, with a population of around 1,600.
St David’s Day 2020 Events
Celebrations start with St David’s Day Dinner on 26 February in the Guildhall, London.
In Wales, one of the highlights is the Croeso Festival that will take place in Swansea on 29 February and 1 March. There will be live music, cookery demonstrations and the St David’s Parade.
St Fagans National Museum of History will feature harp music and traditional folk dancing from 10am to 3pm on 1 March. Alternatively, there will be a Celebration of Wales from 10 am at the Bishop’s Palace, St Davids.
On 2 March, there will be a parade in Haverfordwest.
One of the best things to do in Wales is to go walking the Pembrokeshire Coast path, near St Davids.
St David’s Day Food
By the 18th century “taffies” – gingerbread men riding a goat, in the manner of St David – were baked for St David’s Day.
St David’s Day Costume
People celebrate by wearing a daffodil, the national symbol of Wales, or a leek. Legend has it that before a battle with the Saxons, David instructed the Welsh forces to wear a leek so as to distinguish them from their foes. The Welsh won.
As the day coincides with the first day of spring, and as daffodils resemble leeks, a daffodil is often used to replace a leek.
St David’s Flag
The flag of Saint David has is a yellow cross on a black background.
St David’s Day in Welsh
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus.
Is St David’s Day a Public Holiday?
Unfortunately not, even though according to a poll in 2007, some 87% of Welsh people want it to be made one. However, PM Tony Blair rejected such calls.
More information on things to do in Wales
For more inspiration on things to do in the principality, visit www.visitwales.com.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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