St Davids Day in St Davids
We may be the smallest city, but we produced a national patron saint and boast some pretty big celebrations – head West to join in!
Unlike St Patrick’s Day, St Davids Day is not a bank holiday (yet), but that doesn’t stop the Welsh from celebrating our patron saint just as enthusiastically. Here, in his birthplace, the celebrations on the first of March are very special, and, overlooking the cathedral built on the site of his monastic settlement, the importance of this day is palpable. Read on to learn more about St David’s Day in St Davids…and why you need to be here!
When is St Davids Day?
St Davids Day is celebrated on the 1st of March every year. This is traditionally recognised as the day that St David died, in around 589, and is now celebrated as his feast day.
Who was St David?
David was the son of St Non of Menevia (now St Davids City) and the king of the neighbouring county, Ceredigion. On the day of his birth, sometime around 462, a great storm gripped this area of Pembrokeshire, which many saw as an indication of the power of the child. He became a great teacher, a renowned preacher and founded monastic settlements in Wales, Devon and Brittany. His most famous miracle was while preaching in a large crowd in Llanddewi Brefi – the ground rose beneath him and a dove landed on his shoulder. He was officially recognised as a saint in 1120, and shortly after was recognised as the Patron Saint of Wales.
How is St Davids Day Celebrated?
Despite much lobbying, St Davids Day is not a nationally recognised holiday. However, many schools take a half day to allow for celebrations with family. More popular are St Davids day parades, where children dress in traditional costumes and march through their towns, singing Welsh songs. Often, Eisteddfodau (Welsh cultural competitions) take place for school children on March the 1st.
As March the 1st is officially the feast of St David, then it’s typical to find Cawl, a Welsh stew made of lamb and vegetables, on the menu. Quite ironic as David himself was a vegetarian! We’re sure he would approve of Te Bach though, which is tea with bara brith (a traditional fruit cake made with tea and mixed spices) and pice bach, or Welsh cakes, all of which are traditionally eaten on this day.
St Davids Day activities you can get involved in
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the St Davids Dragon Lantern parade. It’s being held on Saturday, March the 2nd so that everyone is able to take part. Join hundreds of community groups, children and even the Air Squadron Corps band as they take to the streets of the ancient city of St Davids with dragon lanterns in tow! Festivities begin at 5:30 pm from Oriel Y Parc.
If feasting is your idea of a celebration, then why not take part in the annual St Davids Day Cawl Competition? That’s right, from 1 pm you get to turn up at St Davids City Hall, taste hundreds of bowls of delicious traditional broth, and help judge the winner of the coveted Golden Ladle! What’s not to love?!
Speaking of feasts, how about a twist on the traditional? Visit Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm for their St Davids Day feast and Celtic Magic at Grub Kitchen. They’re serving local Welsh delicacies such as St Davids lamb cawl and blackberry bara plank…although the cricket cookies will still be available if you’re feeling brave! This feast takes place on March the 1st at 6:30pm – book early to make sure you don’t miss this unique celebration!
A chapel was built on the spot where St David was born and is named after his mother. The ruined chapel and well of St Non can still be visited. There is now also a retreat and modern chapel on this site and they all sit on a beautiful, wild, coastal spot on the coast path on the outskirts of the city.
There are many gorgeous cafes in and around St Davids, so if you’re after a gentler celebration, then why not visit the cathedral named after the man himself, and then pop into one of the local eateries for a Welsh cake or three? The Refectory at the Cathedral itself has been recently renovated into a beautiful café and art space and serves home made and gluten free treats.
Like our St Davids Day in St Davids post? Then please share on social media! Don’t forget to check out our blog section for other activities ideas – why not check out What’s On in Pembrokeshire in 2019?