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:
David Was Born In The 6th Century
Even though the exact date of his birth is unknown, experts mean he was born around the year 520 – some 1500 years ago! Interesting: he was apparently born on the Pembrokeshire cliffs during a wild thunderstorm.
He Had Unlikely Parents
Legend has it that he was the son of Sant, the king of Ceredigion and a nun called Nonnita.
He Found A Monastery
When he was a young man, David became a monk. During this time it is believed he wound a monastery, close to his birthplace. The area, in Pembrokeshire, is now known as St Davids. It is believed that St Davids Cathedral and St Davids Bishop’s Palace are both built on the site of the original monastery.
The Smallest City in The UK Is Named After Him
St Davids, with its cathedral, has a population of around 1600 people, making it the smallest city in the UK. Compared to the Welsh Capital, Cardiff, with a population of around 358000!
Interesting: the tenor Dewi Sant bell in the cathedral weighs 2700lbs!
He Got His Nickname From His Diet
David’s nickname was Dewi Dyfrwr – ‘David the Waterdrinker’. This was because he followed a modest monk’s diet consisting of mainly bread and water. He didn’t even consume meat and beer!
He Was A Miracle Worker
He was said to have been able to restore a blind man’s sight and bring a child back from the dead by splashing tears in the boy’s face.
His Fame Wasn’t Limited to Wales
Today, you can also find churches and chapels dedicated to David can be found in South-West England, Ireland and Brittany.
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!