Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb! That’s Welsh for Happy St David’s Day to all! To celebrate, we want to tell you the story of St David.
Said to have been born around 520, St David is the patron saint of Wales.
It is said that St David was born in a wild thunderstorm on the cliffs of St David, the small city in Pembrokeshire which was later named after him. His parents have been said to be the king of Ceredigion, Sanctus and a nun called Nonnita (Non).
Around about 550, he founded a monastery close to his birthplace where he and his fellow monks lived a simple life, drinking water and eating only herbs and bread. David became known as Dewi Dyrfwr (David the water drinker) as meat and beer were forbidden.
Although the monks farmed the surrounding land, David insisted that they did not use animals to carry their tools, they were to carry them. None of the monks were allowed any personal possessions and they spent evenings praying, reading and writing.
David was allegedly preaching to a large crowd in the village of Llanddewi Brefi. Some people had difficulty hearing him and a white dove landed on David’s shoulder, and as it did, the ground on which he stood rose up to form a hill, making it possible for everyone to see and hear him where a church now stands. The dove became his emblem.
More than 60 churches in Wales had been dedicated to David by the 12th Century and many pilgrims visited his monastery in St Davids.
You will find churches and chapels dedicated to David in south-west England and Brittany, as well as Wales. His influence also reached Ireland, where the Irish embrace his beliefs about caring for the natural world.
St David is believed to have died on 1 March 589.
Why the leek and daffodil?
When the Welsh were in battle with the Saxons, it is said that their clothes were so similar it was difficult to tell them apart. St David suggested that the Welsh men should wear a leek in their helmet to identify them and that is what they did. The Welsh won the battle and the leek was then adopted as the emblem of Wales.
Wearing a daffodil is a more modern tradition which was publicised by David Lloyd George. A suggestion is that the daffodil is used simply because it grows in the spring (around the time of St David’s Day on March 1).