St David’s Day traditions: when is it and how do the Welsh celebrate?

Celebrate Wales' national day with our guide to St David's Day which looks at the history of the patron saint of Wales and popular Welsh traditions.

Pembrokeshire, Wales

Celebrate Wales’ national day with our guide to St David’s Day which looks at the history of the patron saint of Wales and popular Welsh traditions.

Who was St David?

St David – or Dewi Sant, as he’s known locally, founded religious centres across Wales and England and then lived at St Davids in south west Wales, where he established a religious community and is said to have performed many miracles.

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When is St David’s Day?

Each year St David’s Day is celebrated on 1st March to mark the day St David died in 589 AD. His remains are buried at St Davids Cathedral and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.

Why is St David’s Day celebrated?

St David’s Day is a celebration of the patron saint of Wales. Traditionally, the Welsh celebrate by wearing a daffodil and/or a leek.

To say Happy St David’s Day” in Welsh is Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

When were daffodils first sold in Britain? 

Daffodils of all sizes and shapes have been seen in England since the 17th century; Shakespeare celebrated them as the flower that “comes before the swallow dares”, and bunches of wild blooms were sold by flower girls on the streets of London. However, the farming of daffodils for cut-flower sales did not start until the late 19th century.

Troops harvesting daffodils
Soldiers stationed on St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly in 1943 take a break from duties to join the harvest (Getty)

Find out more in our British daffodil history guide 


Britain’s best daffodil walks

The cheering sight of daffodils is a sure sign that spring has sprung.

Here is our pick of the best daffodil walks to enjoy this spring 

Daffodils
Daffodils are a sure sign that spring has sprung/Credit: Getty Images
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What is Wales famous for?

1

Welsh castles

Wales contains more castles per square mile than any other country in the world.

Guide to Britain’s castles: history and best to visit

From the ravens of the Tower of London, to remote medieval ruins, Britain’s sprawling castles retain a sense of heritage in our cities and countryside – our guide to Britain’s best castles

 

Warwick Castle

2

A spectacular heritage coastline

42% of the south and west Wales coastline is designated as Heritage Coast.

Best walks in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Explore the rugged cliffs, sweeping bays, rolling hills and extraordinary wildlife of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in south-west Wales. 

Coastal path along Porthmelgan, Pembrokeshire
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3

The longest place name in Britain

The Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which means: ‘St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave’, is the longest place name in Britain.

Anglesey
Anglesey in North Wales ©Getty

Wales doesn’t quite hold the title for longest place name in the world as it is beaten to the post by New Zealand’s South Island, where Tetaumatawhakatangihangakoauaotamateaurehaeaturipukapihimaunga -horonukupokaiwhenuaakitanarahu, reaches a whopping 92 letters (it means ‘the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one’.

4

Mount Everest is named after a Welshman

Mount Everest is named after Welshman Sir George Everest, who was a British surveyor and geographer who served as Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843.

Everest
Sunset over the Mt Everest north face from the Rongbuk Monastery, at an altitude of 5200m, in Tibet Autonomous region in China./Credit: Getty Images
5

Britain’s oldest monastery

The monastery of Bangor-on-Dee, near Wrexham, is the oldest in Britain, and was founded in 560AD.

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Traditional Welsh recipe: make sugar-crusted Bara Brith

Is bara brith a bread? Or is it a cake? Some say bara brith is definitely a bread given that, made the traditional way, it is made with yeast and smeared liberally with salted Welsh butter. But others argue that since it’s packed with fruit and takes pride of place at any Welsh tea table, it’s indisputably a cake. Whatever the case, bara brith is delicious.

Buttered bara brith
Homemade Bara Brith/Credit: Getty Images

Make this easy sugar-crusted Bara Brith recipe for a tasty afternoon treat