March 1st – St. David’s Day, a day of celebration for the Welsh

My old friend, Doug Johnson (no ‘t’), always kept me on my toes when it came to special days such as ‘Flag Day’, ‘Robbie Burns day’, ‘Commonwealth Day’, ‘St. David’s Day’ and many others throughout the year.

Doug said that “… history plays an important role in the lives of many and it’s important to remember.”

March 1st, St. David’s Day, is a day of celebration and remembrance for those of Welsh ancestry.

As the Patron Saint of Wales, St. David plays a very important role in Welsh culture withparades held in Wales, especially in Cardiff.  This year, was the first when neither the late Prince Philip or the Queen attended.

People of Welsh background, such as 19th century explorer David Thompson and 20th century novelist Robertson Davies, are remembered on this day and many Canadians can trace their ancestry to Wales.

In the Welsh language, Saint David is known as Dewi Sant, and he is the patron saint of Wales.

A Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, St. David also became the archbishop of Wales in the 6th century and was known, primarily, for helping to spread Christianity throughout the ‘pagan’ Celtic tribes of western Britain.

Dewi was born near Capel Non (Non’s chapel) on the South-West Wales coast near the present city of Saint David and was said to have come from royal lineage. His father, Sant, was the son of Ceredig, who was prince of Ceredigion, a region in South-West Wales. His mother, Non, was the daughter of a local chieftain. Legend has it that Non was also a niece of King Arthur.

Dewi was educated in a monastery called Hen Fynyw, with his teacher Paulinus, who was a blind monk.  There he stayed for some years before going forth with a party of followers on  missionary travels.  He travelled throughout Wales establishing several churches, through southern England, Cornwall, Brittany and even as far as Jerusalem.

He lived a frugal life and it is claimed that he ate mostly bread and herbs (watercress) but was reportedly tall and physically strong.

Today, his life and work is celebrated throughout Wales on March 1st with a celebration that dates back to 1120 when he was canonized by Pope Callactus II. He is recognized for keeping the Welsh language, one of the oldest living European languages, alive

In St. David’s Hall, Cardiff, each March 1st, there is a concert featuring a 1,000-member male voice choir, specially formed for the occasion.

This year, 2024, March 1st was a day later as it is a leap year.  For those born on March 1st, Happy Birthday!