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March 1st, 2009 – Happy St. David’s Day. Or, for the Welsh speaking among us, “Dydd Gwyl Dewi Dedwydd!” This is the day for all Welsh people to celebrate their country, often accompanied by a leek or a daffodil pinned to their outfit.
So who was St. David, and why is he the patron saint of Wales? According to legend, he was the Abbot and founder of a monastery that is now known as St. David’s in Pembrokeshire. He later became the Archbishop of Wales.
A very devout man, he is believed to have performed many miracles before his death on the 1st of March, 589. He became the patron saint of the country many years ago, when the Welsh were resisting the Norman invasion.
St. David also founded or restored up to twelve other monasteries throughout the country during his life. Legends have been born that say he rode on the back of a sea monster from Ireland to Wales.
St. David’s day is more of a celebrated occasion than its English equivalent, St. George’s Day. In Wales it is in the same league as Burns Night in Scotland or St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
Major Welsh cities such as Swansea and Cardiff organise special events in commemoration every year. In Cardiff, a week-long program of events has been organised for this year. It includes a ten kilometer run, musical performances at Cardiff castle, and even a parade, which takes a route through the centre of Cardiff from a museum near the university to the National Assembly near Cardiff Bay.
St David’s Day is a chance for all Welsh citizens and descendants to feel a sense of unity, despite where they may live. It is also a chance for non-Welsh people to learn more about the history and culture of the country, as well as have a good time at the various celebratory events. Wales has managed to retain a strong sense of its identity and culture, with traditional costumes and recipes having been passed down through the generations. Some of the most famous recipes include Welsh Rarebit, which is a variation of cheese on toast, Welsh Cakes or ‘bakestones’, and cawl, a country stew made with seasonal produce.
If you fancy celebrating St David’s Day at home, here is a simple recipe for Welsh rarebit, courtesy of the website “Wales Wide Web”. So enjoy celebrating; daffodils are optional.
4oz grated hard cheese
3 tablespoons of milk
A little mustard (to taste)
A tomato (or two, if you prefer)
A thick slice of toast
1. Mix the cheese, milk and mustard and spread thickly over the toast. Make sure the edges are covered so they don’t burn.
2. Cook under a hot grill until bubbling and starting to brown.
3. Slice the tomato and put a couple of slices on top, then re-heat briefly.
4. Serve with the other tomato slices.