What do leeks, small onion-like vegetables, and daffodils, beautiful glowing yellow flowers, have in common? Well, quite a lot if you’re Welsh actually.
Last Friday the little nation of Wales celebrated its National Day as it does every year on 1st March. Whilst not as internationally well known as the celebrations of St Patricks Day, which come around just shortly afterwards, the festival of St David is celebrated just as vigorously by the Welsh, who are certainly a proud and patriotic bunch. So who was St David and how do the Welsh celebrate?
A 6th century Welsh Bishop of Minevia, legend has it that St David made his way from Wales on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he was made an archbishop and returned home to become a renowned preacher and teacher setting up monastic settlements throughout the country. His miracles include moving the earth itself as it rose up beneath him whilst he was giving one of his speeches.
Almost 900 years later, St David was pronounced a saint and today St David’s Day, which is celebrated on the date of his death, marks an unmissable highlight of spring-time in Wales. Celebrations take place across the country in every town and village of this little nation but the centrepiece of the festival takes place in the capital city of Cardiff. Here there are master-classes in Welsh culture and cuisine with language workshops of the ancient Welsh tongue and culinary expositions taking place offering tasty treats such as the traditional Welsh cakes, Cawl and Welsh Rarebit. The hi
ghlight is a vibrant parade of red and yellow which marches through the city past the stunning Cardiff Castle and on to St David’s Hall. Dancers and theatrical performers come together to create a grand spectacle showing off the symbols of Wales such as giant dancing red dragons, and children in the traditional dress of black chimney hats, frilly skirts and white shawls. And of course no Welsh celebration would be complete without some fine Welsh music whether from the national orchestra, a rendition of the stirring national anthem, the traditional dulcet tones of
some of Wales’ world renowned male-voice choirs or some the country’s best known international divas such as Tom Jones or Shirley Bassey.
And of course the locals are out in force wearing their national symbols of Wales proudly on their breast – the lowly leek or the beautiful daffodil.