What Is St Davids Day All About?

By | February 25, 2017

You are probably reading this post because you are Welsh. And you probably want to know what this St Davids Day is all about. Or you may have Welsh ancestry and you want to know more about your Welsh heritage. You may even have a fascination with special days like this and so want to learn more about them. Well then this post will discuss what is St Davids Day, so please read on.

What Is St Davids Day

Before I begin I wish to make a correction. You have probably come here because you searched for “St Davids Day“. In actual fact it should be “St David’s Day“, as there was only one saint with this name. With that in mind then I will now continue to discuss everything about this special day for the Welsh.

Special Date:

St David’s Day – March 1st


When Is This Special Day?

Saint David’s Day, (Dydd Gwyl Dewi in Welsh), is the feast day of Saint David who is the patron saint of Wales. The date for this day is celebrated on March 1st. It is of particular importance as it was date that Saint David died. It is believed that he died in the year 601. This date was declared a national day of celebration sometime in the 18th Century.

When Is St David's Day?

On his death his fellow monks were very sorrowful and all spoke these words:

Brothers be ye constant.  The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfill.

Similar to England, Wales’s patron saint day is not an official public. So unfortunately people cannot take the day off from work and enjoy this occasion. Even though there is no official holiday there has been growing support to make this day a public holiday.

In 2000 members of the National Assembly for Wales voted unanimously for St David’s Day to become a public holiday. Later in 2006 a poll was conducted where 87% of Welsh people voted in favor for this day. A year later saw a petition for a bank holiday for the Welsh rejected by the office of the Prime Minister, who was Tony Blair at the time.


Origins of St David’s Day and About David

David was born at the latter end of the 5th Century and was of noble blood. It is believed that lived to be 100 years old. He was a descendant of a royal house within the mid Welsh county of Ceredigion. David founded a Celtic monastic community in West Wales in the county of Pembrokeshire. This is where St David’s Cathedral is today.

Origins of St David

He was widely known among the Celtic Christians as a teacher and also for abstaining from worldly pleasures. He founded a community at Glyn Rhoslyn which became, and still is today, an important centre in Wales.

Even though he was of tall stature he was incredibly gentle and kind. He was also physically strong despite living on a frugal diet.

He would travel across Wales and England, and even going as far as Brittany and France. Within Wales he founded several churches and thus became an archbishop.

David was recognized as the country’s patron saint during the resistance to the Normans during the 11th Century. He was even celebrated within England during the late Middle Ages. However, this was by Welsh immigrants and this was met by much disdain by the English. It was so bad that life-size effigies of Welshmen were symbolically lynched.

He was canonized in 1120 and after this date many people made the pilgrimage to the cathedral at St David’s.


The Welsh and The Tudors

Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle in 1457. He became King Henry VII of England after he conquered Richard III at the bloody Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. This event ended the War of the Roses which was a result as to who would control England. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

Welsh Mosaic

Henry used the green and white flag emblazoned with a red dragon for his battles. This is the flag that we all know of today,  (see the top of the post). It was even displayed on the Feast Day of Saint David. This flag though was not recognized as the Welsh flag until quite recently, back in 1959.

Saint David even has his own flag which is a golden cross on a black background. This flag was not symbolized in the House of Tudor. Like the Welsh Flag they are both not featured on Union Jack of Great Britain and Northern Island.


What To Do On St David’s Day?

The Welsh are referred to by their nickname “Taffy“. Taffies were gingerbread figures that were in the shape of a Welshman that was riding a goat. These were baked and ate on Saint David’s Day.

Other Welsh delicacies consumed on this day include Welsh cakes and Cawl, which can be thought of as a soup or a broth. The main ingredients for this dish are potatoes, swedes, carrots and also meat.

Anyone who is Welsh or has Welsh ancestry can celebrate this special day by going to a church service or holding a dinner or a party. You may even go so far has setting up an eisteddfod, where you perform songs, dance or recite poetry in the Welsh language.

In Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, there is a non-military parade that celebrates Saint David. This has become the largest event within Wales. There are concerts and there has also been a food festival to mark the event.

Owing to the inspiration of the capital many smaller towns conduct a parade on Saint David’s Day. And there are concerts performed within pubs and clubs and many other venues throughout the land.

            

Celebrating Saint David’s Day in School!

Even though schools are open on this day the children and teachers will put on a concert or an eisteddfod. In the past school children were allowed to go home early. But this is not the case nowadays.

Celebrating St David's Day

The girls will wear tradition Welsh costume which has a long woollen skirt, a white blouse, a woollen shawl and a Welsh hat. The boys on the otherhand have a choice of two attires. They can either chose to wear an outfit that is similar to coalminers back in the day. Or they may wear something that is more modern, a Welsh rugby jersey.

Both girls and boys though will have either the Welsh symbols of Wales pinned on their tops. They can be either a leek or a daffodil. Or if they are truly patriotic they may wear both.

The daffodil is traditionally a symbol of Wales, whereas the leek symbolizes Saint David. The leek came about in Welsh history as this was used to distinguish Welsh fighters amongst the English who had a similar outfit.

Celebrating Saint David’s Day Worldwide!

You don’t need to be in Wales to celebrate Saint David. Disneyland Paris organizes a week long event to mark this special day for the Welsh. There are fireworks and parades all week. And surprisingly, or maybe not that surprising is the fact that many Disneyland characters don Welsh costumes.

There is even a festival conducted in Los Angeles, California. At this event there is an eisteddfod, a Celtic marketplace, classes and also a concert.


Final Thoughts

You don’t have to be Welsh to join in the festivities of this day. But it will make it special for you if you have Welsh ancestry or know someone who is Welsh. You may even wish to show to your friends your knowledge of Saint David with the information on this page. Please share this post, I encourage you.


Start Looking

Why not research your Welsh ancestors on this day? You can use the many tips and guides found on this site to begin your family history journey. There is just so much that you will discover and who knows it may quite surprise you. So take the first step today!


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this article explaining what is St Davids Day, or rather St David’s Day to be exact. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

10 thoughts on “What Is St Davids Day All About?

  1. Mike

    One of the great exchanges in Shakespeare’s Henry V after the battle of Agincourt.

    FLUELLEN
    Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is
    remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a
    garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their
    Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this
    hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do
    believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek
    upon Saint Tavy’s day.
    KING HENRY V
    I wear it for a memorable honour;
    For I am Welsh, you know, good countryman.

    Reply
  2. Brent

    You are a wealth of information, my friend!! I have never even heard of this saint before!! I see that you heritage is full of rich heroes and saints to pay tribute to. Thank you for the lesson.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You’re quite welcome Brent. I like sharing information like this on my site. Origin stories are always fascinating.

      Reply
  3. Timothy Gagnon

    Interesting! I never heard of St.David’s day before (maybe because I’m not Welsh) but it does sound cool. Thanks for sharing this detailed article. Nice work!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Timothy. Stay tuned as there’s will be more saint days covered on this site.

      Reply
  4. Marlene

    I am not Welsh, but I am fascinated about what is St. Davids Day all about.

    Now I know a lot more than I did before, thank you. Great article and a great read too. Your information is good.

    Thank you for a enjoyable experience here at your site today.

    Good job, keep up the good work.

    Marlene W

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Marlene for your compliments, it is very encouraging. You may also be interested in reading my St Georges Day article as well.

      I plan to write articles about St Andrew an St Patrick in the near future as well. So stay tuned for that.

      Reply
  5. Caleb

    I’ve always had a great fascination in knowing different cultural findings and traditions. Holidays for different cultures has always been a great interest. We focus so much on our own holidays that we don’t pay heed to the cultures and holidays of other cultures. St. David’s Day fascinates me greatly because it’s a holiday with great meaning and remembrance in Wels culture.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You’re right Caleb we don’t focus on the holidays like the culture and traditions of countries. So it makes a nice change to focus on holidays on this site and see what day should matters to our ancestors

      Reply

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