Saint David was a 6th century Welsh bishop and became the patron saint of Wales in the 12th century. Little is known about his life, yet he still plays an immensely important role in the Welsh culture and history. Nobody knows exactly when St David was born, but many people believe that he died around the age of 100. The first written texts describing his life have only appeared about 500 years after his death. That makes it difficult to distinguish the real stories of his life from various myths and legends. It is known for sure that he was canonised in 1120.
In order to honour Saint David and the history of Wales, people in the United Kingdom and other countries, such as Canada or the United States, attend special church services, parades or literature readings. Because the day also celebrates the Welsh culture, the flag of Wales with a red dragon on a white and green background appears in many public places on that day. Saint David’s flag – a yellow cross on a black background – can also be displayed on March 1. Some people, especially children at schools, wear a traditional Welsh costume – a black hat with white trim, long skirts and shawls. It is, however, much more popular to pin a daffodil or a leek – symbols of Wales – to clothes. Saint David’s Day is also connected with a traditional meal of the day – cawl, a soup made of leek and other local products.
In Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, a National St. David’s Day parade is held on March 1 every year. Many exciting performances can be seen in the city centre then. A special concert with the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales is also held in Cardiff on that day. It is famous for a beautiful performance of traditional Welsh songs. Other cities and smaller towns often hold their own parades and concerts. March 1 is also a great opportunity to discover the Welsh heritage, for many important sites, such as cathedrals or museums, are on that day open for free.
Saint David’s Day is not only celebrated in Wales. For example, every year Disneyland Paris organises events with fireworks and costumes honouring the day and the whole of Welsh culture. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, the largest annual event of this kind in the United States is held on St. David’s Day. Washington, DC also holds a congressional reception at the United States Capitol.
Did you know?
It is often believed that Saint David was a miracle maker. One of many legends about his life says that he was able to move mountains. It is said that when he was preaching in one of Welsh villages, people could not see or hear him well. Then, a white dove landed on his shoulder, and the ground he was standing at suddenly became a mighty hill. Due to this legend, Saint David is now often portrayed with a dove on his shoulder, which became his emblem.
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