Leisure

St David’s Day 2013 hosts the best of Wales

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Streets of Cardiff are ready to welcome Welshmen and visitors for this year’s St David’s Day

This year’s St David’s Day will be celebrated under the finest Welsh spirit with many events prepared by Welsh suppliers and companies.

The Welsh festive season begins in Cardiff from February 28 bringing plenty of traditional and cultural events.

Prince Charles and Camilla will attend the National St David’s Day Service at St John the Baptist City Parish Church in Cardiff. They will meet students and members of staff during a visit to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

During their visit, they will also go to a special St David’s Day concert, which will feature a performance of Cambria’s Homage to our Empress Queen written by the first Royal Harpist, John Thomas.

The National Parade is one of the biggest cultural events in Wales every year. It gathers crowds who watch and participate in the celebrations of St David’s Day, which often include folklore concerts, cultural performances and a food festival.

One of the on-going traditions during St David’s Day is eisteddfodau, the Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, which is celebrated by children who recite poetry and sing traditional Welsh songs.

For centuries, the first of March has been a national festival for Welshmen. Every year, various parades and celebrations are held in Wales to commemorate St David. The parade in Cardiff is the biggest and is often attended by either the British Monarch or the Prince of Wales.

It is believed that St David became national patron during the height of the Welsh resistance against the Normans.

Although the exact reasons for granting St David the status of patron of Wales are unknown, legends stress his peculiar personality. St David, a Celtic monk who spread the word of Christianity in Wales, was once preaching to a large crowd, when the ground he was standing on rose up so the worshippers could hear him better.

Despite such mythical dimensions attributed to St David, the day is not a public holiday. It was initially a half-day holiday, which used to bring happiness to many children who did not have to attend school.

In the United States, Patagonia and other places with large Welsh communities, St David’s Day has regularly been celebrated by Welshmen and Welsh culture enthusiasts across the globe.

Apart from many social activities, Welsh people and residents of Wales tend to wear national emblems of Wales.

One of them is the daffodil, which blossoms in March, and a leek whose history is more mysterious.

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Daffodils, well-known Welsh symbol

Some attribute the leek to the day preceding the battle with the Saxons when St David advised Welsh people to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish allies from enemies.

The leek symbol also alludes to William Shakespeare’s Henry V, in which Welsh archers wore leeks during the major English victory in the Hundred Years’ War, the battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Apart from these two symbols, girls tend to celebrate St David’s Day by wearing the traditional costumes once worn by rural Welsh women, which consist of a tall black hat, white frilled cap, colourful wrapper and long dress.

The national flag of Wales portraying the red dragon and St David’s flag are also flown and associated with the Welsh national day.

Attach the daffodil or leek to your jacket and wave the Welsh flag at Cardiff’s annual St David’s Day Celebrations!

Tymoteusz Chajdas

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