Happy Saint David’s Day

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus

Saint David  Dewi Sant  c. 500 – c. 589 was a Welsh bishop during the 6th century and later regarded as a saint. He is the Patron Saint of Wales. David was a native of Wales and a relatively large amount of information is known about his life. He is traditionally believed to be the son of Saint Non and the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, King of Ceredigion. Although his birth date is uncertain – suggestions range from 462 to 512 – it is claimed he lived for over 100 years and that he died on a Tuesday 1 March around 589. This is when we celebrate Saint David’s Day. 

Dewi Sant is typically depicted holding a dove and often standing on a hillock.  His best-known miracle is said to have taken place when he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd at the Synod of Brefi: the village of Llandewi Brefi stands on the spot where the ground on which he stood is reputed to have risen up to form a small hill. A white dove, which became his emblem, was seen settling on his shoulder. The Welsh historian John Davies notes that one can scarcely “conceive of any miracle more superfluous” in that part of Wales than the creation of a new hill.

During his last sermon to his followers Dewi Sant is said to have asked of them:

Bydwch lawen a chedwch ych ffyd a’ch cret, a gwnewch y petheu bychein a glywyssawch ac a welsawch gennyf i. A mynheu a gerdaf y fford yd aeth an tadeu idi“.

 This translates as:

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 “Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.”

“Do ye the little things in life”

Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd

is today a very well known phrase in Welsh.


Dewi Sant was buried at St David’s Cathedral  at St David’s, Pembrokeshire.

His shrine there was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. During the 10th and 11th centuries the Cathedral was regularly raided by Vikings who removed the shrine from the church and stripped off the precious metal adornments. In 1275 a new shrine was constructed, the ruined base of which remains to this day . The relics of St David and St Justinian were kept in a portable casket on the stone base of the shrine.

After his death, his influence spread far and wide, first through Britain and then by sea to Cornwall and Brittany. In 1120, Pope Callactus II canonised David as a Saint. Following this he was declared Patron Saint of Wales. Such was Davids influence that many pilgrimages were made to St. David’s, and the Pope decreed that two pilgrimages made to St. Davids equalled one to Rome while three were worth one to Jerusalem. Fifty churches in South Wales alone bear his name.


So what happens on Saint David’s Day today?

Children go to school dressed in national costume and wear a leek or daffodil pinned to their clothes

According to legend on the eve of the battle against the Saxons St David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe. This helped to secure a great victory. Today Welsh people around the world wear leeks on St David’s Day. It is also a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David’s Day

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The Welsh for leek (the original national emblem) is Cenhinen while the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr.

Over the years they became confused until the daffodil was adopted as a second emblem of Wales.

Across Wales on March 1 St. David’s Day parades take place and in bigger cities food festivals, concerts and street parties also occur

The flag with a yellow cross on a black field being held high alongside the Red Dragon flag is the banner of Saint David

Despite the fact that Saint David abstained from drinking and advised others to do the same, a number of Welsh breweries make special St. David’s Day ales.

Iechyd da! – Good health / Cheers!

A Welsh stew named Cawl containing lamb and leeks among other vegetables, is traditionally consumed on St. David’s Day.

Other traditional treats are Welsh cakes and a currant loaf called Bara Brith

More Phrases in Welsh

Bore da – Good morning

Prynhawn da – Good Afternoon

Noswaith da – Good Evening

Nos Da – Goodnight

Sut mae? – How are you?

Croeso – Welcome

Croeso i Gymru – Welcome to Wales

Os gwelwch yn dda – Please

Diolch – Thanks

Da – Good

Da iawn – Very good

Bendigedig – Great