This Friday should be a joyous St David’s Day for all Welsh sports fans with Swansea football team winning the Capital One Cup final, the rugby team doing well in the Six Nations tournament and Welsh women excelling in the cycling World Championship.
The question of how to celebrate our national day is a thorny one. Many countries have a public holiday and national celebrations on their special day, but here in Wales it’s business as usual. In 2000 the Welsh Assembly voted in favour of making the day an official holiday. Despite this and the numerous petition campaigns in recent years, the day remains a working day. Certain towns, including Cardiff and Colwyn Bay, will hold parades as entertainment for those not in work. Schools traditionally hold eisteddfodau (competitions in music, literature and performance) on St David’s Day with children attending in national costume. Welsh societies both in Wales and abroad will mark the day with dinners, perhaps including traditional dishes such as leek soup, while other Welsh people will be content with wearing a lapel pin of a leek or daffodil.
It might be argued that St David would prefer a simple celebration in any case, his motto being “do the little things that you have seen me do”. He and his monks followed strict ascetic principles, eating bread and vegetables and drinking only water (although some argue that the water aspect was added later by temperance-minded Welsh chapel-goers). As a young man he had cured his tutor of blindness, but his most famous miracle occurred in the place now known as Llanddewi Brefi where he made the earth rise beneath his feet so that the audience could see and hear him preaching. He died on 1 March 589 AD and was said to be 100 years old at the time of his death.
BLS wishes a happy St David’s Day to all Welsh people and their friends, whether you’re toiling away or on holiday.