1st March heralds the annual celebrations of St David’s Day, an iconic day for all Welsh people. And the celebrations this year included castles across Wales opening their doors to the public for free. The castles included Gower’s Weobley, Kidwelly, Carreg Cennen, Castell Coch, Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Caerphilly, Chepstow, Conwy, Criccieth, Denbigh, Dolwyddelan, Harlech, Raglan, as well as St Davids Bishop’s Palace, Tintern Abbey, and Tretower Court.
For those who don’t know why St David’s Day is celebrated, here is a potted history. It is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year, the day he allegedly died in 569. The day became a national holiday in the 18th century for the Welsh nation. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that the National Assembly for Wales made the day a public holiday. Needless to say, it has not been extended to the rest of the UK.
So what did the great man do to warrant a dedicated day? Apart from founding a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn in Pembrokeshire, where a cathedral now marks the spot, he was a great teacher and leader of men and deserved his status as the patron saint of Wales. Indeed there are some who argue that he has the best case for being the British patron saint as well as St Andrew and St George didn’t actually come here!
To the Welsh throughout the world, the day is traditional, with dinners, parties, and eisteddfodau (recitals and concerts). Parades are held around Wales, the largest of which in Cardiff. And even France is affected: Disneyland Paris organises events including a Welsh-themed week, fireworks, parades and Disney characters dressed in traditional Welsh attire.
Food figures heavily with a traditional menu. Welsh cakes, (resembling a scone, baked on a griddle and with a distinctive flavour and texture, usually sprinkled with caster sugar and served hot with butter) are popular, as are Glamorgan sausages, Welsh rarebit and Bara Brith, a rich fruit loaf made with tea ( and often whisky).
But the most traditional is cawl: if you have never tasted this dish, then you have missed out! Cawl is described as “a wonderfully wholesome dish. The contents used to be dictated by geographical location, i.e. if you were on the coast you might be making a seafood cawl, inland maybe a bacon cawl, and in the hills and mountains mainly lamb and mutton.”
Pubs, clubs and other outlets will have celebrated St David’s Day around the country. At AC Services (Southern) we hope that everyone enjoyed the first major holiday of the year. As it also coincided with The Six Nations Rugby, the Welsh nation is celebrating more than usual with the beating of the English by Ireland setting up a St Patrick’s weekend decider for Wales with Ireland. Just ensure that your oven stays up to the task: get it checked, and should there be any problems, then call us to sort it out. Oh and remember, St George’s Day is only around the corner!