Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

392 Shares
392 Shares
WedMar 1

St. David's Day – March 1, 2023

There’s nothing more Welsh than St. David’s Day, the feast and celebration that falls on March 1 and commemorates the patron saint of Wales, Saint David — the greatest figure in the 6th century, Welsh Age of Saints, founder of scores of religious communities, and the only native-born patron saint of the countries of Britain and Ireland. St. David, a famous teacher and the founder of what is today St. David’s Cathedral, was famed for his pious austerity, his commitment to eschew sensual pleasures in favor of spiritual enlightenment, and his ability to perform miracles. Because of his life and works, St David’s Day is widely popular amongst the Welsh. Today, the holiday is as much a celebration of Wales as it is of her patron saint. Children participate in recitation and singing, parades line the streets, the flag of Saint David is raised, and some girls wear traditional Welsh clothing.

History of St. David's Day

St David’s Day has been celebrated since the year 1120 and is a huge celebration for the Welsh. Who is St David? St David was the greatest figure in the 6th century Welsh Age of Saints, founder of scores of religious communities, and the only native-born patron saint of the countries of Britain and Ireland.

Most of what we know about St David was written by the 11th-century scholar Rhygyfarch. He tells us that St David was born in Pembrokeshire around the year 500, the grandson of Ceredig ap Cunedda, king of Ceredigion. He became a renowned preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Brittany, and England – including, possibly, the abbey at Glastonbury. In 550 A.D., fellow monks elected him primate of the region of Brefi, after he gave a compelling speech at the Synod of Brefi. In 569 A.D., David presided over the Synod of Caerleon.

He’s said to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he became an archbishop and established a strict religious community in what is now St Davids in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. He was famed for his pious austerity, as he is believed to have lived on only leeks and water. His monks only prayed, ate, and wrote in the evenings, and plowed fields themselves without the help of animals. He eschewed personal possessions — the monks could not even say ‘my’ when referring to something as simple as a book.

Many people claimed that St David was able to perform miracles. One of the more famous miracles associated with him is that once while preaching at Llandewi Brefi, he caused the ground to rise beneath his feet so that everyone could hear his sermon. During the incident, a white dove is said to have landed on his shoulder, as he is so often depicted now. Other miracles are believed to be St David resurrecting a dead child and restoring sight to a blind man. 

St David died on 1 March – St David’s Day – in 589. He was buried at St. David’s Cathedral. After the Vikings raided his tomb in the 10th and 11th centuries, it was given a new shrine in 1275. The bones of the person who was supposedly St. David were discovered in the Holy Trinity Chapel of Saint David’s Cathedral and carbon-dated back to the 12th century. He was canonized by Pope Callixtus in the 12th century, and St David’s Day has been celebrated ever since. His shrine at St. David’s became a notable place of pilgrimage, especially during the Middle Ages.

There have been over 50 churches dedicated to him in pre-Reformation days. He was also canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church. St. David’s day has long been a celebration of the saint of Wales and, in 2000, the National Assembly for Wales voted cross-party to recognize St. David’s Day as a public holiday. Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, recognized symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, eating traditional Welsh food including cawl and Welsh rarebit, and women wearing traditional Welsh dress. An increasing number of cities and towns across Wales including Cardiff, Swansea, and Aberystwyth also put on parades throughout the day.

St. David's Day timeline

462-515 A.D.
The Birth of a Saint

St David, Dewi Sant in Welsh, is born on the south-west coast of Wales, near to where the city of St Davids is today.

560 A.D.
Building a Monastery

St David is said to have founded a monastery close to the place where he was born.

569 A.D.
Monks Elect David

David presides over the Synod of Caerleon, also called the Synod of Victory.

March 1, 589 A.D.
The Passing of a Great Man

After living for, apparently, more than 100 years, St David passes away on Tuesday, March 1, 589 after giving his final sermon the day before.

1120 A.D.
St David’s Day Becomes Official

St David is canonized by Pope Callixtus II, becoming the national patron saint of Wales, and March 1 is officially included in the church calendar as St David’s Day.

2000
A Public Holiday

With cross-party support in the National Assembly for Wales, St. David’s Day officially becomes a public holiday.

St. David's Day FAQs

Why do we celebrate St David’s Day?

St David is the patron saint of Wales and he is celebrated on the 1 March. To mark the day, Welsh people around the world wear one or both of Wales’s national emblems – a daffodil and a leek. Patron saints are chosen to be special protectors or guardians over all areas of life. 

 

What is St David known for? 

St David became a renowned preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches in Wales, Brittany and southwest England – including, possibly, the abbey at Glastonbury.

 

Why do people wear leeks or daffodils? 

Many people mark St David’s Day on 1 March by wearing a leek because of David’s diet or a daffodil, the national emblems of Wales. The flag of St David is also worn which simply features a yellow cross on a black background.

How to Celebrate St David’s Day

  1. Visit Wales

    Several Wales’s heritage sites are open for free on St David’s Day, as part of St David’s Day celebrations – including St Davids Bishop’s Palace. This includes Caerphilly Castle, with its iconic leaning tower and St Davids Bishop’s Palace — located near St Davids Cathedral, where Wales’s patron Saint, Dewi Sant, founded his monastery. There is also a national parade each year. From military parades to concerts and food festivals, there is no shortage of celebration of St. David’s Day in Wales — particularly in Cardiff. If that’s out of range, try to find a celebration near you! Even Washington D.C. and Los Angeles hold events for the Welsh holiday to honor Welsh culture.

  2. Wear a costume

    People typically celebrate St David's Day by wearing a daffodil, the national symbol of Wales, or a leek, St David's symbol. In Wales, people, particularly children, wear traditional Welsh costumes. Girls wear a petticoat and overcoat, made of Welsh flannel, and a tall hat, worn over a frilled bonnet.

  3. Eat Welsh food

    Go on a search for Welsh cakes and Bara Brith. If you can’t find a Welsh restaurant, it doesn’t matter. Cook up some ‘cawl,’ Welsh rarebit, ‘laverbread,’ or ‘Glamorgan sausage’ to celebrate traditional Welsh cuisine!

5 Facts About St David That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. David founded a monastery

    David founded a monastery around the year 560, close to the place where he was born.

  2. He was a vegetarian

    It is believed that St David himself only ate leeks and drank water.

  3. Shakespeare mentions him

    In Henry V, when Pistol, insults the humble leek on St David’s Day, Fluellen insists he eats the national emblem as punishment: “If you can mock a leek, you can eat a leek”.

  4. He was a miracle worker

    He was said to have been able to restore a blind man’s sight and bring a child back to life by splashing the boy’s face with tears.

  5. A king took his remains

    After his 1284 military campaign in Wales, the English King Edward I took the head and arm of St David from the cathedral and displayed the remains in London.

Why We Love St. David’s Day

  1. His teachings were meaningful

    His last words to his followers before his death are thought to have been: "Be joyful, keep the faith and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do." The phrase gwenwch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd which means 'Do the little things in life' is still a well-known phrase in Wales.

  2. He practiced discipline

    One of the many lessons that can be learned from David’s life is discipline. St David and his monks plowed fields by hand and didn't eat meat. It is also believed that St David himself only ate leeks and drank water. Even if we don’t go to those measures, St David’s great discipline and restraint is certainly something to be admired and implemented in our lives in little ways.

  3. You can learn about Welsh culture

    Holidays are a great way to learn about other cultures. St David’s Day is a day to explore Welsh food, music, and traditions. Welsh culture and history are not well-known, so today is a great day to learn about what it means to be Welsh! St. David’s Day allows Welsh people to put their homeland pride on display.

St. David's Day dates

YearDateDay
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
2027March 1Monday
Hearing Awareness Week
National Aplastic Anemia & MDS Awareness Week
National Ghostwriters Week
National Invest in Veterans Week
National Will Eisner Week
National Write a Letter of Appreciation Week
North Dakota Winter Show
Universal Human Beings Week
Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day
Baba Marta
Baby Sleep Day
Endometriosis Awareness Day
Independence Movement Day
International Ideas Month
International Martisor
International Women of Color Day
Lavity Stoutt's Birthday
Mărțișor
National Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Day
National Dadgum That's Good Day
National Fruit Compote Day
National Horse Protection Day
National Hotel Slipper Day
National March First Day
National Minnesota Day
National Peanut Butter Lover's Day
National Pig Day
National Sage Day
National Texas Stress Day
National Wedding Planning Day
National Welsh Corgi Day
Peace Corps Day
Plan a Solo Vacation Day
Public Risk Management Awareness Day
Refired Not Retired Day
Self-Injury Awareness Day
Share a Smile Day
St. David's Day
Stop Bad Service Day
World Civil Defense Day
World Compliment Day
World Music Therapy Day
World Seagrass Day
Yap Day
Zero Discrimination Day
Academy Awards Month
Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month
Alport Syndrome Awareness Month
American Red Cross Month
Berries and Cherries Month
Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
Brain Injury Awareness Month
Colic Awareness Month
Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Awareness Month
Dolphin Awareness Month
Employee Spirit Month
Endometriosis Month
Exotic Winter Fruit & Leeks and Green Onions Month
Expanding Girls' Horizons in Science and Engineering Month
Gardening, Nature and Ecology Books Month
Gender Equality Month
Greek-American Heritage Month
Honor Society Awareness Month
Humorists are Artists Month
International Mirth Month
Irish-American Heritage Month
Listening Awareness Month
Mad for Plaid Month
Malignant Hyperthermia Awareness and Training Month
March Madness
Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal
Mental Retardation Awareness Month
Middle Level Education Month
Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month
National Athletic Training Month
National Bed Month (U.K.)
National Breast Implant Awareness Month
National Caffeine Awareness Month
National Celery Month
National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
National Cheerleading Safety Month
National Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month
National Clean up Your IRS Act Month
National Color Therapy Month
National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Crafting Month
National Credit Education Month
National Crochet Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
National Endometriosis Awareness Month
National Essential Tremor Awareness Month
National Ethics Awareness Month
National Eye Donor Month
National Flour Month
National Frozen Food Month
National Kidney Month
National March Into Literacy Month
National Music in Our Schools Month
National Noodle Month
National Nutrition Month
National Optimism Month
National Peanut Month
National Professional Social Worker's Month
National Reading Month
National Sauce Month
National Social Work Month
National Umbrella Month
National Women's History Month
NZ Book Month
Play the Recorder Month
Poison Prevention Awareness Month
Read an E-Book Month
Red Cross Month
Save Your Vision Awareness Month
Sing With Your Child Month
Small Press Month
Spiritual Wellness Month
Supply Management Month
The Great Daffodil Appeal
Trisomy Awareness Month
Vascular Anomalies Awareness Month
Veggie Month
Women’s Month (Philippines)
Workplace Eye Wellness Month
Youth Art Month

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.