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1 March 2009

St David's Day

The patron Saint of Wales is St David. His day is celebrated on 1st March every year. Such was his importance and influence in the old days that four visits by pilgrims to his shrine at St David's in Pembrokeshire were considered equal to two to Rome or one to Jerusalem. His influence is also shown in the number of churches dedicated to him in Wales.

St David was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop from an aristocratic family in West Wales who lived in the sixth century. As Archbishop of Wales he helped spread Christianity among the pagan Celtic tribes of western Briton. He is buried in the grounds of his monastery where the Cathedral of St David's in Pembrokeshire now stands. St David's Day became a national festival in Wales in the 18th century.

On this day children dress in traditional Welsh costumes, enjoy traditional Welsh dances, sing Welsh folk songs and recite Welsh poems in schools and at local concerts and song and poetry competitions, or eisteddfodau to give them their Welsh name.

The Welsh flag with its proud Welsh dragon flies from public buildings and hangs from many private houses. The traditional St David's day meal includes cawl, a type of clear, lamb stew seasoned with leeks, and served with bread and cheese.

Many people in Wales sport the generic Welsh symbol, the daffodil in their lapel on St David's Day. whilst others wear a leek, St David's personal symbol. he association between the two symbols is strengthened by the similarity of their names in Welsh: Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Bedr (Peter's leek). Even though I now live in a small village in England, two hundred miles away from my Native Wales, I am proud to wear a daffodil today, on Dydd Dewi Sant, St David’s Day.