Celebrating St David’s Day

Britain magazine
St David's Cathedral

The first day of March marks the anniversary of the death of the patron saint of Wales, St David or Dewi Sant, and is commemorated as the national day of Wales

Britain magazine
St David’s Cathedral

St David is the patron saint of Wales and the 1 March is commemorated as the anniversary of his death in 589AD.

St David is rumoured to have been educated in Cardiganshire and after, he made his way to Jerusalem where he was appointed as Archbishop. After his pilmgrimages he is said to have settled in Glyn Rhosyn (St David’s) in south-west Wales. Here he established a religious community and the cathedral of St David’s became a popular centre of pilgrimage.

The cathedral stands today on the site of St David’s 6th century monastic settlement. The cathedral has had a tumultuous past with invasions, earthquakes, royal visits and refurbishments. It stands today in Pembrokeshire as a mighty symbol of religious pilgrimage and as a remarkable reminder of Welsh heritage.

David was officially recognized as a Catholic saint in 1120 and the day of his death was decreed as a national festival in the 18th century.

To mark St David’s Day people around Wales wear one of the two national emblems – the leek or the daffodil.

Like any folklore, there is much speculation as to why these two objects exist as national emblems.

Records suggest that rulers of the Tudor dynasty introduced its guards to the wearing of leeks on the national day. One story tells of an ancient king who advised men in battle to wear leeks as they fought against the Saxons to help differentiate between them and the enemy.

The daffodil, however, was more of a seasonal introduction as their spring sprouting coincides with the national day.

Today, an annual colourful parade takes place in the centre of Cardiff and concerts, markets, curated walks and festivals scatter the rest of the land in celebration of this national day.

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