Happy St David’s Day!
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus! That’s ‘Happy St David’s Day’ in Welsh. On the 1st of March, the people of Wales celebrate their national day, as well as the life and work of their patron saint. So who was Saint David? Never say you don’t learn anything from Regtransfers – we’re about to tell you!
While much of his life is clouded with myth and legend, we know that St David, or Dewi, was born around 520CE, probably to nobility. As was custom with many young men of his time, he was sent to join the priesthood, a job that suited him well.
Legends about St David’s life attribute all sorts of miracles to him. He is said to have restored a man’s sight and raised a child from the dead when crying over them. Once, when preaching a sermon, he apparently raised a hill so the whole crowd could see him – what a skill for the short among us to have! Even more impressive, it is said he got a dove to sit on his shoulder as he did so.
St David got about. He travelled all over Wales and southern England, helping to build Glastonbury Abbey and establish churches wherever he went. He even travelled as far as Jerusalem on pilgrimage – quite an achievement at the time!
St David is also responsible for the Welsh association with leeks. The story goes that the Saxons were causing trouble and threatening to overrun the Welsh kingdoms. Prior to a battle, David told the Welsh troops to stick a leek on their armour, or in their helmet, in order to prevent friendly fire. To this day, Welsh people wear leek on the first of March.
The saint is also said to be responsible for a rather spooky phenomena. Worried about when and how they would die, the worshippers of St David’s parish apparently asked him to ask God for a sign, to ease their minds. The story goes that David came back to them and said that a glowing, floating light would appear nearby when a death was imminent. The size and colour of the light, or ‘corpse candle’ would indicate whether it was a man, woman, or child who was about to die. Creepy.
After a long life of preaching, travelling and supposed miracles, St David died in 589. He is buried at the cathedral named after him in the cathedral and town named after him in Pembrokeshire. His last words were apparently, “Do the little things that you have heard and seen me do”.
On March 1st, young people dress in Welsh national costume, or, barring that, a rugby top. It’s a day when many schools, villages and communities put on an eisteddfod, where they sing, dance and recite Welsh poetry. It’s also an excuse for a bit of a party. Can you blame them? Happy St David’s Day, Regtransfers customers!