Do the Little Things In Life! Celebrating St David's Day
St David, (or Dewi Sant in Welsh), is the patron Saint of Wales and he is celebrated on the 1st of March each year. To recognise the day, Welsh people around the world wear both or one of Wales's national emblems - a daffodil and/or a leek!
In usual economic conditions, a parade is held in the centre of Cardiff and across the country, towns and villages host their own parades, featuring dragons and national Welsh dress. However, with current restrictions in place, there are few ways you can celebrate this patron saint day safely at home.
What is St David famous for?
Most of the information we have about St David was written by 11th century scholar Rhygyfarch. His scriptures tell us that St David was born in Pembrokeshire in the year 500, he was the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, king of Ceredigion, and he became a renowned preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Brittany and England – including, possibly, the abbey at Glastonbury.1
His final words to his followers before his death are believed to have been: "Be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do." And as such, the phrase ‘Gwenwch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’ -'Do the little things in life' - is still a well-known phrase in Wales.
In his lifetime, it is said that St David made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem becoming an archbishop and returning with a stone that formed part of his original monastery; this now sits on the altar at St David's Cathedral.
He was famed for his pious austerity and was made a patron saint by Pope Callixtus in the 12th century, and we have celebrated St David’s Day ever since.
How is St David's Day celebrated?
“Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus”, translated as Happy St David’s Day! To celebrate this patron saint day, Welsh people proudly wear their national symbols of a daffodil or a leak, and enjoy traditional Welsh dances, singing folk songs and reciting poetry.
- Why Daffodils? Daffodils are the first flowers of Spring and begin blooming early on in March coinciding with St David’s Day. Interestingly the Welsh for leek, “Cenhinen”, is uncannily like the Welsh for daffodil, “Cenhinen Pedr”, which translates to "Peter's Leek"2.
- Why Leeks? Leeks are worn in remembrance of the battle against the Saxons. Led by St David, Welsh warriors pinned leeks to their uniform so they could be easily distinguished against their opponents! The Welsh won this battle, and so the leek became one of their National emblems.
What do you wear on St David's Day?
Traditional Welsh dress became custom in the 18th & 19th centuries. For the ladies, a petticoat and Welsh flannel overcoat, with a tall hat, worn over a frilled bonnet. For the gentlemen, a white shirt, a Welsh flannel waistcoat, black trousers, long wool socks, and black shoes.
Alongside the traditional Welsh dress, one might consider a kilt outfit, with ghillie shirts, sporrans, kilt hose and pipe band accessories, all which can be adorned with Welsh dragon kilt pins, a flash of Welsh tartan socks, or an embroidered red dragon.
What do you eat on St David's Day?
Our favourite part! Whilst St David himself was rumoured to be a vegetarian, only eating leeks ploughed from the fields by him and his fellow monks, there are a few traditional St David’s Day favourites you can try at home.
Welsh Cakes or ‘Pice ar y maen’
Eaten and enjoyed regularly in Wales, these traditional cakes, or versions thereof have been around since the 19th century. Crossed between a cookie, a scone, and a pancake with a sweet yet slightly salty taste, moist yet crumbly, light yet filling. These were made originally by the lady of the household as a treat to serve with afternoon tea and were also given to children with their school lunches.
We found this delicious recipe from Belling for you to try.
Bara brith or ‘speckled tea bread’ is the Welsh version of teacake! Traditionally made with a yeast dough by bakers, and combining dried fruit soaked in tea. The result is a juicy, and moist loaf with good keeping qualities. Served best with a generous spread of Welsh butter or soft cheese.
Why not try this crowd pleasing recipe from Le Creuset.
Whilst historically the ingredients do vary, the principle is the same - Good heart warming and comforting food! Made with lamb or beef with leeks, potatoes, swedes, carrots and other seasonal vegetables and can all be added to one pot (A Ninja OP100UK Foodi MINI 6-in1 Mutli-Cooker is perfect for the job!).
We love this traditional lamb recipe by Blas y Tir, (an award-winning Welsh fresh produce company).
Glamorgan sausage, or “Selsig Morgannwg'' is a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage! The main ingredients are cheese (usually Caerphilly) and leeks, coated in golden breadcrumbs.
Whilst some versions can contain pork, we’ve found this scrumptious version by Wales own avant-garde vegan chef, Gaz Oakley.
We’d like to say “lloniannau” and “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus” to all of our Welsh brothers and sisters, but especially to our local independent Euronics UK experts, we hope you enjoy your celebrations.
Please note the images within this article are for illustration purposes only and not taken during national restrictions