St David’s Day takes place on March 1 every year and is a feast day to commemorate the patron saint of Wales, St David. The date marks the anniversary of his death, which is believed to have happened on March 1, 589.
It has been celebrated across Wales, and by Welsh people around the world, for more than two centuries. Despite attempts by the National Assembly of Wales to have it made into a bank holiday, this has not happened yet as the move has not been sanctioned by the British Government. It is still a possibility that the early May bank holiday may be moved to March 1 in Wales only so that St David’s Day could be celebrated as a public holiday in the future.
The day has become a popular occasion for celebrating many different aspects of Welsh culture and heritage, with special events, parades, recitals and concerts performed in the Welsh language taking place both in Wales and around the world, as well as church services in honour of the patron saint.
The largest parade takes place through Cardiff city centre and is attended by the Prince of Wales or another member of the royal family. A traditional soup made of leeks known as cawl is a popular dish on the day, while many people mark the occasion by wearing a daffodil or leek on their clothing.
St David’s Day commemorates the life of the Welsh patron saint, St David, know as Dewi Sant in Welsh, who lived more than 1,500 years ago.
He is thought to have lived to the age of 100 and passed away in 589 AD, having founded a number of churches in the celtic world, particularly in Wales where he travelled extensively and he also set up a monastery in Pembrokeshire.
Today, the Cathedral of St David stands on the same spot where the monastery was first set up. Details of his life are not certain as they are based on an account written towards the end of the 11th century and numerous legends and tales of miracles are attributed to his religious endeavours, with the most famous being the story of the ground rising up below him so that he could address a crowd of worshippers.
He was made into a Catholic saint in 1120, with tales of his work continuing to spread throughout Wales from the 12th century onwards. March 1 became part of the church calendar as his holy feast day in 1398, and the day later became recognised as a national celebration in Wales during the 18th century and it continues to be celebrated today.