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Saint David's Day
Saint David's Day
St David
Official name Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant
Observed by Wales
Type National day in Wales.
Date 1 March
Celebrations Children take part in eisteddfodau.
Observances Parades; wearing Welsh emblems, etc.

Saint David's Day (Welsh: Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant) is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The date of 1 March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then.[citation needed] The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

Cross-party support resulted in the National Assembly for Wales voting unanimously to make St. David's Day a public holiday in 2000, a stance supported by the Wales TUC.[1] A poll conducted for Saint David's Day in 2006 found that 87% of people in Wales wanted it to be a bank holiday, with 65% prepared to sacrifice a different bank holiday to ensure this.[2] A petition in 2007 to make St. David's Day a bank holiday was rejected by office of the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.[3]


The significance of St. David's Day

Dewi Sant – St. David was born towards the end of the fifth century. He was a scion of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Sir Benfro, at the spot where St David's Cathedral stands today. David's fame as a teacher and ascetic spread throughout the Celtic world. His foundation at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine, and the most important centre in Wales. The date of Dewi Sant's death is recorded as 1 March, but the year is uncertain – possibly 588. As his tearful monks prepared for his death St David uttered 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 fulfil'.

For centuries the first of March has been a national festival. St David was recognised as a national patron saint at the height of Welsh resistance to the Normans.

In 2003 in the United States, St. David's Day was recognised officially as the national day of the Welsh, and on 1 March the Empire State Building was floodlit in the national colours, red, green and white. It is invariably celebrated by Welsh societies throughout the world with dinners, parties, recitals and concerts.

To celebrate this day, people wear a symbol of either a leek, or daffodil. The leek arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil.[4]

In the poem Armes Prydain, composed in the early to mid-tenth century AD, the anonymous author prophesises that the Cymry (the Welsh people) will unite and join an alliance of fellow-Celts to repel the Anglo-Saxons, under the banner of St David: A lluman glân Dewi a ddyrchafant (And they will raise the pure banner of Dewi).[5]

St. David's Day Events

St. David's Day Parade Cardiff


Every year parades are held in Wales to commemorate St. David. The largest of these is held in Cardiff.[6]

To mark St. David's Day, and their return from a six-month tour of Afghanistan, soldiers from the Royal Welsh Regiment provided The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Cardiff Castle’s south gate on 27 and 28 February 2010.[7]

On 1 March 2010, the seventh National St David’s Day Parade took place in Cardiff city centre. Celebrations included concerts, a parade and a food festival. The food festival ran from 26 February with the third annual Really Welsh Food Festival in Queen Street, featuring all Welsh produce.[8][9] Following the parade, a number of Welsh entertainers performed from a bandstand and in the evening Cardiff Central Library provided free entertainment and food.[9]

St David's Hall staged its traditional St David’s Day concert in the evening of 1 March with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC National Chorus of Wales and youth choruses.[8]

Other locations

Public celebrations of St. David's Day are becoming more commonplace. In many towns an annual parade through the centre of town is now held. Concerts are held in pubs, clubs, and other venues.

In the town of Colwyn Bay in north Wales, an annual parade through the centre of town is now held with several hundred citizens and schoolchildren taking part. Other events are centred around the parade.[10]

Swansea inaugurated a St David's Week festival in 2009 with a range of musical, sporting and cultural events held throughout the city to mark the national day. [11]


Water in Swansea Castle Square Fountain dyed red for St. David's day

Children in Wales take part in school concerts or eisteddfodau, with recitation and singing being the main activities. Formerly, a half-day holiday was afforded to school children. Officially this custom does not continue, although the practice can vary on a school-to-school basis.

Many Welsh people wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their lapel to celebrate St. David: the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol which is in season during March) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol) on this day. The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Pedr (daffodil, literally "Peter's leek"). Younger girls sometimes wear traditional Welsh costumes to school. This costume consists of a long woollen skirt, white blouse, woollen shawl and a Welsh hat.

The flag of Saint David often plays a central role in the celebrations and can be seen flying throughout Wales.

Cawl is frequently prepared and consumed on St. David's Day.


  1. ^ "WalesOnline - News - Wales News - New Bank holiday mooted – but don't start celebrating". WalesOnline website (Media Wales Ltd). 28 Jul 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  2. ^ Guto Thomas (1 March 2006). "Poll backs St David's Day holiday". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-03-01. 
  3. ^ Bank-Holiday - epetition reply: Prime Minister rejects petition to make St David's Day holiday, 10 Downing Street.
  4. ^ [1] – Dydd Dewi Sant on
  5. ^ Ifor Williams (ed.), Armes Prydein (University of Wales Press, 1955), line 129.
  6. ^ St. David's Day Parade Cardiff-Gorymdaith Gwyl Dewi Sant Caerdydd – Official Site for the St David's Day Parade in Cardiff, Wales
  7. ^ "WalesOnline - CardiffOnline - Cardiff news - Soldiers go marching on for St David’s Day". WalesOnline website (Media Wales Ltd). 01 Mar 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  8. ^ a b "WalesOnline - News - Wales news - Cardiff’s St David’s Day celebrations". WalesOnline website (Media Wales Ltd). 12 Feb 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "WalesOnline - CardiffOnline - Cardiff news - Sun shines on St David’s Day parade". WalesOnline website (Media Wales Ltd). 02 Mar 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  10. ^ Video of 2007 Colwyn Bay St. Davids's Day Parade
  11. ^ St David's Week in Swansea

External links


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