A Full Guide to St David’s Day 2024
Wales is a beautiful country with lots of appeal in terms of its geography and landscape, great cultural significance, thriving arts and music scene and welcoming people wherever you go.
Carrying your ‘Welshness’ with you throughout your life is an honour, whether you’re a first-language Welsh speaker or don’t speak the language at all. St David’s Day 2024 is another excuse to celebrate everything Cymru! If you’re not from Wales but are studying and living there, you might want to join in with the celebrations this year.
You can greet a Welsh person with “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus” on March 1st and this is sure to put a smile on their face. This means Happy St David’s Day.
The tradition of St David’s Day
St David’s Day (Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant) is the National Saints Day of Cymru (Wales) and it is celebrated every year on March 1st (the date of Saint David’s death in 589 AD. Traditionally, the day has been known as the ‘feast day of Saint David’ and has been celebrated since the 12th century to honour the whole of Wales and its culture.
He was the only native-born patron saint of the countries of Britain and Ireland and was canonised by Pope Callixtus in the 12th century.
Why do people wear leeks and daffodils on St David’s Day?
In schools, children from a young age are encouraged to wear ‘Welsh’ costumes, which are traditionally a red and black plaid skirt with a red shawl and a black tall hat or bonnet for young girls. It is Wales rugby or football shirts for boys and girls in modern times.
Both the daffodil and leek are worn on costumes and displayed during St David’s Day. The legend is that St David ordered Welsh soldiers to wear leeks on their helmets during battle against the Saxons in the 6th century.
The daffodil is the national flower of Wales, and in Welsh is called Cenhinen Bedr (St Peter’s Leek), which might explain the link with Wales through leeks. They are also in abundance at this time of year.
Is St David’s Day a national holiday in Wales?
Unfortunately, March 1st is not an official bank holiday in Wales, although there are continued calls for it to become one. Despite this, there is plenty of celebration on the day in schools, universities, and workplaces, as well as the traditional parades across the country.
Parades in Wales
There are annual processions, parades and celebrations across Wales, including in the capital, Cardiff (which is a fantastic place to live) alongside Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Wrexham, and Lampeter amongst others.
If you live in Wales, this provides you with a great chance to join and soak up the culture and traditions of St David’s Day 2024.
The National St David’s Day Parade in Cardiff is a huge example, with plenty of traditional flags, banners with the red dragon, the red and yellow lions of Welsh princes and the mass singing of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (the national anthem) which will make your hairs stand on end because it is so moving.
At parades and processions throughout Wales, expect to see food stalls, stages with bands playing music, and sporting competitions taking place (Wales is football and rugby mad!).
Listen to Welsh music
Wales is known as the land of song for good reason. Famous for the Male Voice Choirs singing Calon Lân, through to Shirley Bassey and Sir Tom Jones and onto rock and pop greats such as John Cale, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Super Furry Animals, Gwenno, and modern pop-punk bands like Chroma and Adwaith, there is a wide and varied history of Welsh music to explore. Take some time out to listen to some new Welsh music this St David’s Day.
Try Welsh food
One of the best things you can do to celebrate St David’s Day 2024, and just to embrace Wales any day of the year really, is to have a taste of Cymru!
There are some delicious dishes from Wales that you just must try, so why not give them a go this year on March 1st. Whether you want to make some Welsh cakes or go out and sample some Welsh rarebits, here are some of the best Welsh foods that you should try:
There is no rabbit involved in this tasty dish, even if it was once known as Welsh rabbit. It is, quite simply, the best cheese on toast you’ll find anywhere on the planet!
Take some thick bread, toast it, and smother it in a hot cheese-based sauce, with added egg if you fancy that touch. You can choose a cheese of your liking of course, with a strong cheddar a popular choice.
You find a different version of stew in every part of the country, but the warmest stew and the one full of heart and warmth is definitely cawl.
St David’s Day 2024 is still on the cusp of spring, and the weather hasn’t quite warmed up yet, so a lamb cawl dish, with slow-cooked lamb and leek broth, some other veggies of your choice and a hunk of crusty bread and butter for dipping, will certainly help warm you up as you celebrate the best of Wales.
As traditional as it comes, the humble Welsh cake is not a scone, a cookie, or a pancake, but instead a glorious treat unlike anything else. The best versions should melt in your mouth, using the simple ingredients of flour, sugar, milk, butter, and dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants or a mix) and a dusting of sugar to create a delicious little golden disc of loveliness.
a traditional Welsh fruit cake with a unique flavour profile, bara brith is a staple at any afternoon tea in Wales. What makes it such a different take on fruit cake is that it is made with the addition of half a pot of hot black tea, giving the finished cake that nice familiar note of char that takes it a step above your average cake.
It certainly elevates the taste like no other and is worth giving a shot!
If you are living in Wales as a student and want to take part in the local culture, or you’re a Welsh person living away at university and want to feel close to your culture this St David’s Day 2024, we hope we’ve been able to help.
Cymru am byth!