Thursday, 16 February 2012

St David's Day

Saint David

St David is the patron saint of Wales (for the benefit of my American followers, he is to us what St Patrick is to the Irish).  In life, he was a Bishop during the 6th century and it is said that he died, aged over 100 years of age, on Tuesday 1st March in the year 589 AD.  He was buried at St David’s Cathedral Pembrokeshire, where his remains are said to lie to this day.  He was canonised by the Vatican in 1120 and subsequently became the patron saint of Wales.   

In Wales St David’s Day (March 1st) is celebrated widely, and especially by school children.  The girls dress in traditional costume, a black tall hat with white lace below the brim, a shawl and an apron.  The photograph left shows me wearing my ‘Welsh Costume’ (now there’s a valleyism for you!) aged about 4 or 5, the group photograph on the right is the rest of my class!  School children also get a half-day holiday in honour of St David. 

We also wear either a leek or a daffodil, both of which are the National Emblem of Wales.  Mostly people wear pins or brooches, but it’s not unusual to see real daffodils, or even leeks worn by some, especially if March 1st falls on a Rugby International Saturday! 

There are many legends associated with St David one being that during battle he advised his soldiers to wear leeks in their hats to distinguish them from their Saxon enemies; allegedly this is why the leek is one of the National Emblems and worn to mark his day! 

The other, more obscure legend refers to corpse candles which are said to appear to warn of a death, much like the Banshee in Irish folklore.  According to legend, in response to a prayer from David asking that his people have a warning of their death, people living in Wales would be forewarned by the appearance of candles when and where the death could be expected.   

For those inclined, more information can be found here : 

The Flag of St David

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