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The Complete Guide to Saint David’s Day

While Saint Patrick’s Day may be the most iconic patron celebration of all, the rest of the British Isles also have their own saintly celebrations. England Saint George’s Day, Scotland remembers Saint Andrew, while little old Wales celebrates Saint David’s Day.

For Welsh communities across the world, it’s a day that stands out on the yearly calendar and is worthy of a celebration equal to that of our Irish brothers in arms across the narrow Irish Sea.

In this guide, we will look at everything you need to know about Saint David’s Day – from the history and traditions to the festivities themselves. Let’s look at what makes this day so special for the people of Wales!

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Saint David, or Dewi Sant, was a sixth-century Welsh bishop who played a pivotal role in spreading Christianity throughout Wales. In his role, he was renowned for his devotion to his faith and dedication to serving others less fortunate.

As part of his holy duties, Saint David founded several monastic communities across Wales that focused on the teachings of Christianity. These communities were set up in places including Llandaff and one at Glyn Rhosyn in Pembrokeshire, which later became St. David’s Cathedral.

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Saint David. Photo by Llywelyn2000CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A community was also set up in Llanddewi Bref, the town which played host to Saint David’s greatest miracle! According to legend, as he performed a sermon to a large crowd of onlookers who flocked to hear the teachings of the renowned Saint David, he caused the ground to rise beneath his feet to allow his voice to be heard by all.

His miracles didn’t stop there! Other notable phenomena include restoring the sight of the blind and the healing of the sick.

Above all, he preached a message of humility, and compassion, while also caring for the less fortunate. Saint David’s teachings cemented his status as a national hero and has been deeply revered by the Welsh people ever since.

Saint David’s Day is celebrated on March 1st, which also commemorates the day of his death. It’s a day which still holds significance and cultural importance to this day with numerous celebrations held as a symbol of pride among the Welsh people.

Naturally, being a Welsh patron saint, the most significant celebrations are held primarily in Wales. Though it may be a national holiday, it does not come with a day off work or school!

In neighbouring England, particularly in border areas with Wales such as Herefordshire and Shropshire, Saint David’s Day is also celebrated amongst overlapping communities.

saint david's day
Saint David’s Day celebrations. Photo by Llywelyn2000CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Significant Welsh communities and their descendants across the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also commemorate Saint David’s Day with events that showcase Welsh culture, music, dance, and cuisine.

It’s even celebrated as far away as Argentina! Welsh settlers who arrived in Patagonia in the late 19th century brought their traditions and culture with them, including celebrating Saint David’s Day. It’s also the only other place in the world with a significant community of native Welsh speakers!

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This annual celebration also comes with a variety of traditions and customs that reflect the deep-rooted heritage of the Welsh people.

The iconic symbol of a blossoming spring is also the national flower of Wales. As such, these delicate little flowers take centre stage on Saint David’s Day! People proudly wear daffodils (both real and fake) as a badge of honour. You might even see passionate fans wearing daffodil-shaped headgear when Wales plays football or rugby!

Leeks are yet another notable symbol of Wales! Many decorative images of the vegetable appear across streets, homes, and public spaces, adding a vibrant touch to the festivities.

Daffodils – the Welsh national flower

No celebration is complete without a decent parade! These colourful events often feature people dressed in traditional Welsh costumes. That includes the national dress for women known as “cost y bedd,” made up of a long skirt, white blouse, shawl, and a notable tall black hat. Men on the other hand may wear traditional Welsh kilts, though they are nowhere near as popular as their Scottish counterparts.

The parades themselves typically include vibrant displays of Welsh culture and pride. Participants march along the streets waving national flags and banners. Traditional Welsh songs and hymns fill the air and all our hours of choir practice finally come into good use!

Community groups, schools, and local organizations often take part in the festivities. They all come to showcase their talents and creativity through music, dance, and theatrical performances, or simply just to participate with pride.

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Saint David’s Day along the streets of Cardiff. Photo by Lilo LilCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though British and particularly Welsh food certainly hasn’t got much of a reputation, there are still many dishes that make an appearance on Saint David’s Day! These dishes reflect the rich culinary traditions of Wales.

Some of the most popular foods include cawl, a hearty Welsh soup made with lamb or beef and seasonal vegetables, Welsh rarebit, a savoury cheese dish served on toast, bara brith, a rich fruitcake flavoured with tea and spices, Welsh cakes, small griddle cakes studded with dried fruit, and laverbread, a delicacy made from seaweed. And of course, plenty of leeks!

Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!

Thank you so much for reading The Complete Guide to Saint David’s Day! Check out these other helpful articles! See you next time!

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