Saint David's Day
by Emma Lewis on Feb 22, 2022
The History and tradition of Saint David's Day
Saint David's Day( Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant) is a very popular event in Wales, and it takes place on the 1st of march. The date is also the date of death for Saint David, which happened in 589 AD. Over the years, Saint David's Day has become extremely important as a feast day, with Saint David being considered the patron of Wales. There are a variety of traditional festivities related to Saint David's Day, these include wearing daffodil flowers and a multitude of incredible costumes, including traditional Welsh dresses for women.
What should we know about Saint David's Day?
Saint David was born in Caerfai, which is in the south west side of Wales. He was a part of an aristocratic family, and some state that he was also a scion for the Ceredigion royal house. He created a monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn which is pretty much at the spot where we can find the Saint David's cathedral today.
His asceticism and teacher fame continued to spread between the Christians in this Celtic land, and he helped create around 12 monasteries at that time. The Glyn Rhosyn foundation became a crucial Christian Shine and maybe the most important one in Wales at that time. The smallest city in Britain is named Saint David after him, a testament to his importance in the local history and the hard work that he did over the years to protect the location and everyone.
Some say that Dewi Sant was a miracle maker. It’s said that he was able to bring a child back to life by splashing his face with tears. Some also said that he restored a blind person’s sight, and while these things might be hard to prove, they do fall in line with the reasons why people loved him and his true focus on asceticism.
Speaking of Miracles, it’s said that he moved mountains in order to help everyone hear the sermon and have enough space. He rose on a small mountain a white dove on his shoulder. This is said to be the reason why Saint David is associated with a white dove.
Why is Saint David's Day seen as a special festival?
During the 12th century, Saint David was recognized to be a national patron saint, with the Welsh resistance against the Normans. Pole Callixtus II also canonized him in 1120, a pivotal moment in history. People were already celebrating Saint David's Day at that time, and during the 17th century there were mentions of how local celebrations were pushed into becoming country-wide celebrations among the neighbors as well.
There were life-size effigies launched symbolically at that time, which showed the importance and uniqueness of the event as a whole. Not only that, but during the 18th century there was also a custom of having confectioners that created taffies. These were gingerbread figures showing a Welshman riding a goat. These were prepared specifically for Saint David's Day, and this habit continues to be popular in some parts of Wales.
Despite the fact that it’s not a national holiday, there is support for Saint David's Day to become a bank holiday. There were times when schools were taking half a day off for this holiday, something that continues in some locations as well.
How is Saint David's Day celebrated?
Every location celebrates it in a different manner. There are a lot of parades dedicated to Saint David's Day, with the largest one taking place in Cardiff. This is a celebration of Welsh culture and heritage. Soldiers are changing the guard at the Castle’s south gate. On top of that, there is a parade in the city center which also has celebrations ranging from a food festival and concerts too. This is something that continues every year, and it shows how important Saint David's Day has become over the years.
Many other Welsh towns have an annual parade regarding Saint David's Day in the middle of their town. There are also concerts related to the holiday in clubs, pubs and other venues. On top of that, there is a Saint David's Week in Swansea that has a variety of cultural, sporting and musical events. It helps push the limits in an engaging and empowering manner, with the benefits being second to none.
There are some Saint David's Day events happening outside the UK too. Disneyland Paris for example has yearly events that celebrates Saint David's Day with a Welsh theme, parades, fireworks and characters dressed in a Welsh attire.
Saint David's Day traditions
Children usually take partake in school concerts focused on singing and recitation. Young girls and boys also wear traditional Welsh costumes to school. These include things like a Welsh hat, a shawl made out of wood, a white blouse, woolen skirt and apron. Young boys wear a red and black checked waistcoat and hat or a Welsh rugby shirt. Other habits include having the Saint David flag flying high during celebratory events.
Then there are specific events at the University of Exeter where the students are taking part in a very interesting beer race. Here they do multiple laps around the perimeter, as they also drink a ping between the laps. The person finishing their lap quicker wins. As you can see, every location has its fair share of Saint David's Day events and tradition, with some small cities having their own habits too. This is a testament to the importance that Saint David still has after so many years.
Saint David's Day is one of the most beloved events in Wales and it continues to be celebrated in an amazing way every year. Not only is it an incredible event on its own, but it does manage to stand out with its unique style and appeal. The best part is that you can also dress up and be a part of this event if you want, since there are specialized costumes for sale around the holiday. You can also choose to attend one of the many parades dedicated to Saint David's Day, which you can find in Swansea, Cardiff and Aberystwyth, among other locations!