About St David’s Day
Those that visit Wales on March 1st will see the region in all its cultural and historical glory. Traditional outfits, bright green leeks and yellow daffodils are all on display, turned into unique clothing accessories. The celebrations in the area reflect the legend of St David and all that he achieved, which has lived on for over one and a half millenniums.
Local folk reflect their national pride through St David’s day through a number of celebrations that see Welsh parades and the dressing up into traditional clothing. A range of parades, recitals, dances and other shows are put on by local performance groups, religious organisations and local schools to help continue the tradition of the Welsh legend – St David.
Who was St David?
St David is known to have spread Christianity across Wales. He was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop living in the sixth century.
The story says that St David went on a pilgrimage, leading him all the way to Jerusalem. It was here he was made an Archbishop, before returning to his native Wales. After returning, people began to make pilgrimages to St David’s Cathedral in West Wales.
The most famous tale of the Saint is one where he was preaching to a huge crowd – during of which the ground became raised up, allowing people from all around to see and hear him. The news spread, and the Welsh learned about Christianity and placed their faith with him as they believed his ability to make the land rise would protect them from the Normans.
Why the Daffodils and Leeks?
These are the two national emblems of Wales. But what do they mean and why do Welsh people wear them on St David’s day?
Well firstly, the leek. In Shakespeare’s Henry V, the leek is cited as a symbol of Wales. Furthermore, history says that during the Tudor dynasty, some guards were issued with leeks to be worn on March 1st. The king of Gwynedd in the 7th Century named Cadwaladr is said to have sent his soldiers to battle wearing a leek for identification purposes. An interesting idea that may well have worked, as he was the last Welsh king to claim lordship over all of Britain!
Daffodils as a Welsh symbol were born out of the 19th century by the only Welshman to serve as Prime Minister. David Lloyd George was a public advocate for Daffodils and appeared in public on March 1st wearing one. The flowers life cycle often works perfectly with St David’s Day on March 1st, thus making it convenient to pick and wear them early Spring time.
Traditional Welsh Clothing
Originally introduced in Nineteenth century, the traditional Welsh costume was known to be a result of the conscious effort to help revive Welsh culture during a period where traditional values were under threat.
The costume is made up of a black chimney style hat, red cloak/shawl and white under layer. The costume is rather distinctive and is recognised all over the world for its unique look. Encouraged to help keep Welsh tradition and promote the speaking and learning of Welsh language, many say the traditional outfit has sparked new life into Welsh culture.
Over the day of St David and/or previous/following weekend, visitors and locals alike will embrace the celebrations, while taking time to reflect on the wonderful country of Wales, its core values, culture and traditions. From the Wales Dragon flag, to quirky leek decorations, the 1st of March in North Wales, Mid Wales and South Wales is certainly something everyone should experience.
Find out more about Welsh attractions, traditions, news and history at NorthWales.com