You probably don’t celebrate Saint David’s Day. Unless you are Welsh. Saint David’s Day (March 1) is one of those holidays, like Saint George’s Day (April 23) and Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17), that is more about celebrating a national identity based on the patron saint of a particular country. So, on Saint George’s Day, the English gather around bonfires and drink beer (at least that’s what we did when I was attending Reed College in the seventies; I don’t know why we aligned ourselves with England). On Saint Patrick’s Day people all over the United States wear green, drink beer, and eat corned beef and cabbage to show their Irish spirit but in Ireland, people were (until recently) more likely to go to church than to the tavern on the saint’s day.
The celebration for Saint David is a little more subtle. Saint David, while the first Bishop of Wales, was also an ascetic known as David the Waterman. You’d be more likely to honor him by drinking water than by drinking beer. It’s traditional on this day to show your allegiance to Wales by wearing a daffodil (or a leek), the flower (or plant emblem) of Wales. The tradition of wearing a leek is mentioned by Shakespeare in Act 4, Scene 1, of Henry V.
I like it that the daffodils in Seattle almost always first appear just in time for Saint David’s Day. I do have an allegiance to Wales since a very ancient ancestor was a Welsh princess (and the mother of the first Fitzgeralds) and I have visited Wales three times while doing research for a historical novel on her life. So I celebrate Saint David’s Day by reading a Welsh poem or listening to a Welsh choir. The Internet makes those things easy. And perhaps a bowl of leek and potato soup would be the appropriate feast. Served, of course, with a glass of water.
Waverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”
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