Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dydd Dewi Sant

Dewi SantIt's Saint David's Day - Saint David, known is Wales as Dewi Sant. Unlike some saints, this one is pretty well pinned down in history - a monk whose father was the king of Ceredigion (Sandde or Sant some call him, but that seems to have been a call-name, or nick-name, meaning "holy" and his actual name to have been Usai). He founded a monastic order of a pretty austere nature, and later became a bishop. His best-known miracle was to create a hill under his feet when people at the back of the crowd complained they couldn't see (the historian John Davies considers it difficult to "conceive of any miracle more superfluous" in mountainous Wales, but there it is.) He went on pilgrimages to Rome and Jerusalem both, returning home to govern the Church in Wales. On his deathbed, he passed on a saying which has become proverbial, and which is good advice to this day: Gwnewch y pethau bychain, Do the little things. (GOO-nayookh uh PE-thai BUHkhain)

Dydd Dewi Sant became somewhat of a national holiday in Wales in the 18th century and continues so today, featuring much singing (this is Wales) and a meal, the flying of the Y Ddraig Goch, the Red Dragon, and the wearing - and sometimes eating - of leeks (or daffodils, of late). Here's a nice video of the Hen Wlad Fy Nhadiau, The Old Land of My Fathers, the Welsh National Anthem:

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