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St David’s Day 2024: Why and how Wales celebrates its patron saint

St David’s Day is not a bank holiday, despite 87 per cent of Welsh people voting to make it one in 2007 (Getty)
St David’s Day is not a bank holiday, despite 87 per cent of Welsh people voting to make it one in 2007 (Getty)

St David’s Day, or Dydd Gwyl Dewi, is celebrated annually on March 1.

Just like the Irish celebrate their patron saint on St Patrick’s Day, St David’s Day remembers the patron saint of Wales.

However, unlike the Irish equivalent, St David’s Day is not a bank holiday despite 87 per cent of Welsh people voting to make it one in 2007. Nevertheless, the day is marked with tasty treats and celebrations.

Here’s all you need to know about ”Dydd Gwyl Dewi” and its significance.

When is St David’s Day?

Welsh flags are to the fore on the patriotic day
Welsh flags are to the fore on the patriotic day

March 1 marks the date St David died in 589 AD and is regularly referred to as the feast of St David.

Who was St David?

While his date of birth is unknown, St David was born 15 centuries ago on the Pembrokeshire cliffs during what was described as a fierce storm. Legend said he was the son of Sant, King of Ceredigion and a nun called Nonnita but this claim has been dismissed by Welsh historians.

St David become a monk at a young age and founded a monastery where St David's Bishop's Palace and the Cathedral now stand. He was later made an archbishop. He died on March 1, 589 AD when he was 100 years old.

St David’s Day was declared a national day of celebration in only the 18th century.

How is St David’s Day celebrated?

The capital Cardiff hosts a national parade to mark the day
The capital Cardiff hosts a national parade to mark the day
More Wales stories - click above
More Wales stories - click above

The leek is the national symbol of Wales and, according to legend, the Welsh put leeks in their helmets at David’s suggestion when they fought and conquered Saxon invaders.

Welsh people may celebrate with Welsh dishes like cawl, bara brith and Welsh cakes on St David’s Day.

They also fly the flag of St David and there is a national parade in Cardiff.

How do you say Happy St David’s Day in Welsh?

"Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus” is how to say “Happy St David’s Day” in Welsh, pronounced something like “deethe goil dewi hap-iss”.

Things to do on St David’s Day

Bake Welsh cakes

Welsh cakes are customary in Wales. You can top yours with jam, a lemon curd or a sprinkle of sugar.

The annual St David’s Day dinner in London

The Welsh community in London has held an annual St David’s Day dinner since 1904. Tickets can be bought online.

Attend a comedy night

London Welsh Centre is celebrating St David’s Day with a comedy show. Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Anna Thomas, Mel Owen, Priya Hall, and Esyllt Sears will take to the stage from 7pm on Friday.

Go to a gig

Singer-songwriter Tony Bowen will be playing music by your favourite Welsh performers, like Stereophonics and Catatonia in Earl’s Court from 6pm.