St David’s Day might be the national day of Wales – but it isn’t a public holiday yet.
Despite St Patrick’s Day and St Andrew’s Day for Ireland and Scotland being holidays, the Welsh celebration still hasn’t been given the green light for a day off.
The debate is likely to be reignited with only a few weeks until the annual celebration of the patron saint St David.
Those hoping to pay homage to the saint in style will have been stocking up on daffodils, Welsh flags and other goodies in preparation. Here is everything you need to know.
When is St David’s Day?
St David’s Day is on March 1 every year.
How to say Happy St David’s Day in Welsh
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! It’s pronounced ‘deethe goil Dewi hapeece’.
What is St David’s Day?
It’s a celebration held every March 1 in honour of St David, who is the Patron Saint Of Wales.
As such, it is also the national day of Wales.
It is not a bank holiday (neither is England’s St George’s Day), although St Andrew’s Day and St Patrick’s Day are.
Who was St David?
Like so many saints, God only knows what he really did.
However, according to legend, he performed miracles including restoring another saint’s sight (St Paulinus).
He is said to have made the earth rise beneath him while preaching to a crowd so his sermon could be heard better.
During a battle against the Saxons, he also apparently advised soldiers to wear leeks in their hats to avoid friendly fire.
This is why one of the emblems of Wales is the leek.
St David also went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was made an Archbishop, and founded a load of monasteries.
How do people celebrate St David’s Day?
Parties usually include traditional dances and songs, such as the Welsh National Anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land Of My Fathers), Te Bach – a tea with fruit bread bara brith and teisen bach (welsh cakes).
Children sometimes wear traditional national costume – the boys’ being a white shirt, black trousers and waistcoat and the girls’ being a petticoat and overcoat, bonnet and tall hat.
There’s parades across the country featuring music, dance and dragons, with the biggest, The National St David’s Day Parade, in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
This year, the parade starts at 12.30pm at Cardiff City Hall and ends at St David’s Hall.
Many Welsh castles and heritage sites also offer free entry on the day.
Some adults also wear the Welsh national symbols – leeks or daffodils.
Why the leek?
As explained above, leeks helped St David and the Britons win a battle, as wearing them helped them recognise comrades.
So leeks now mean victory and national pride to the welsh.
It’s also tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek today.
Why the daffodil?
The Welsh for leek is Cenhinen, while the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr (Peter’s Leek).
Through a mixture of linguistic confusion and trends – the daffodil became popular in the 19th century -the daffodil also became a national symbol.
It doesn’t hurt that daffodils are usually in full bloom this time of year either.
Why the dragon?
The Welsh national flag features a red dragon on a white and green background (as opposed to the flag of St David which is a yellow cross on a black background).
The dragon refers to Arthurian legend when Merlin apparently had a vision of a red dragon (representing native Britons) fighting a white dragon (the Saxon invaders).
The green and white refers to the colours of the House of Tudor, the 15th century royal family of Welsh origin.
If your little one is celebrating St David’s Day in Welsh costume, send us a photo at email@example.com and we will publish them here.