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This Friday the whole of Wales will be celebrating St David’s Day. But who was St David? What was he famous for? And why a leek?
Here are a few facts you (probably) didn’t know about this national day:
He Moved Mountains
This one is hard to believe as well, but apparently, whilst preaching to a crowd in Llanddewi Brefi, he performed his greatest miracle yet. The crowd was finding it hard to hear him preach when suddenly, a dove landed on his shoulder. At that moment, the ground on which he stood is said to have risen to form a hill from which the whole crowd could hear him preach.
This is why his emblem is the dove.
The saint’s final words to his loyal followers reportedly were” Do the little things, the small things you’ve seen me doing”.
There Is A Pilgrimage Site In His Name
After his death, his followers built a shrine in his honour at his cathedral. Pope Callistus II regarded it so high that he declared that two pilgrimages to the shrine was worth one to the Vatican in Rome. By the 12th century, more than 60 churches were dedicated to the saint.
His Remains Were Taken To London By Edward I
h King Edward I took St David’s head and arm from his cathedral and displayed it in London after a military campaign in Wales in 1284.
Hi Name Gave Birth To A Common Welsh Term
Welshmen are often referred to as ‘Taffy’. This links back to st David who is regarded as the ultimate Welshman. The specific terms date back to the 17th century and derive from ‘Dafydd’, the Welsh name for David.
Shakespeare Mentioned Him
William Shakespeare name-dropped St David in Henry V. When Fluellen’s English colleague, Pistol, insults the humble leek on St David’s Day, Fluellen insists he eat the national emblem as punishment: “If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek” (Act V, Scene I).
He Has His Own Flag
Many Welsh people celebrate St David’s Day on 1 March by wearing a leek or daffodil, the national emblems of Wales. OR they display the flag of St David, featuring a yellow cross on a black background.
Why A Leek?
According to a legend on the eve of the battle against the Saxons, St David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe.
Today Welsh people around the world wear leeks on St David’s Day. It is also a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David’s Day.
The Welsh for leek (the original national emblem) is Cenhinen, while the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr. Over the years they became confused until the daffodil was adopted as a second emblem of Wales.
St David’s Day is a great opportunity to explore traditional Welsh heritage sites, many being open and free on 1 March. Click here for the full list.
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!