What is St. David's Day and why do we celebrate it?

Here are 16 facts you may not know about St. David, Wales' patron saint

The National Day of Wales is St. David's Day and is always observed on 1 March, the traditional date of his death.
Welsh flags flying on St. David's Day.

When is St. David's Day?

The National Day of Wales is St. David's Day and is always observed on 1 March, the traditional date of his death.

Saint David (known as Dewi Sant in the Welsh language) was a Celtic monk born towards the end of the fifth century and was Archbishop of Wales. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales, founding 11 churches across Wales and Brittany.

16 Facts about St. David's Day

St. David was a vegetarian. Nicknamed the 'water drinker', St David only drank water and ate only herbs, vegetables and bread.

Rather than a leek or daffodil, St. David's symbol is actually a dove normally resting on a shoulder as he stands on a hill. It is believed while speaking to a crowd of people at the synod of Brefi, a hill arose at the very spot he had preached from.

During the Middle Ages, many believed that St David was the nephew of King Arthur. His father was a prince of Ceredigion and tradition has it that his mother Non, also a saint, was the niece of legendary King Arthur.

It believed when the Saint David was baptised as an infant, a blind monk nearby had his sight suddenly restored.

Unlike the other Saints of the UK, St. David was actually Welsh. He was born around 500 AD in Caerfai in Pembrokshire, Wales to Sandde, Prince of Powys and Non, daughter of a chieftain. St. Andrew was Palestinian, St. Patrick was a Romano-British missionary and St. George was a Roman soldier of Greek extraction.

The Welsh Society of Philadelphia dates back to 1729 and claims to be 'the oldest ethnic society in the United States'.

St. David was officially recognised as a saint by Pope Callixtus in 1120 AD.

St. David was the bishop for the city of Menevia, in Pembrokshire - now called St Davids.

He founded a monastery beside the river Alun, now the site of St David's Cathedral.

Before a battle against the Saxons, legend has it, David advised Welsh warriors to wear a leek in their hats so that they could distinguish themselves from their enemies. This inspired the tradition of wearing leeks on his name day.

According to tradition, he lived to be over 100 years old and died on 1 March 589 AD.

The shrine of St. David in his cathedral at St Davids in Pembrokeshire - was thought of so highly by Pope Callistus II that he stated two pilgrimages to the shrine were worth one to the Vatican in Rome.

St Davids is the United Kingdom's smallest city in terms of both size and population.

King Edward I took the head and the arm of St. David from the Cathedral after his 1284 conquest in Wales. He displayed the remains along with a number of other holy relics in London.

St. David's Day only became a national day of celebration in the 18th century.

His last words, in a sermon before his death, were: "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed, and do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about."


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