St. David’s Day is celebrated on March 1st each year by Welsh people, not only those still living in Wales but by those who are part of the Welsh diaspora around the world. St. David (Dewi Saint in Welsh) was born near the end of the 5th century and, tradition has it that he died on March 1st sometime between AD 569 and 588. He is recorded in history as a good, spiritual man who founded a monastic community on the site where St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire stands today. St. David became the patron saint of Wales and, in the 18th century, March 1st was proclaimed a national day. Wales would like it to be an official “bank holiday” but this has not been approved yet by the British parliament in Westminster.
The Vancouver Welsh Society, as is its annual custom, held a special evening of celebration on March 1st and followed this with a St. David’s Day Banquet the next day.
In Abbotsford, in recent years, we have had a celebration meal at a local restaurant but this year did not do this. However, some of us did something that was very meaningful this year, particularly to one member of our own family.
Our sister-in-law Beryl was married to Calvin, Grace’s brother, who died in 1997. Beryl celebrated her 89th birthday in January but has become physically more frail in recent months. For years she has lived comfortably and independently in a suite in the house of her son Huw, his wife Pam and their two children Meghan and Evan. Unfortunately she reached the point where she needed full care and, in early February became a resident in one of our local seniors’ care facilities.
The staff at the facility mentioned to Kay, Beryl’s daughter, that they had nothing special to celebrate until St. Patrick’s Day. Kay responded that St. David’s Day would come before St. Patrick’s Day and was worthy of a celebration. She also said that she would make some Welsh cakes and bring them along for the residents to enjoy. The response was very positive and other members of the family became involved. So, in the afternoon, St. David’s Day was celebrated in the community room. Kay baked a large number of Welsh cakes which were distributed to and enjoyed by the residents. As many members of our family as possible went along with Welsh items of interest and Grace dressed in her traditional Welsh costume. She took along her large Welsh doll, “Myfanwy.” This was passed around and held by many of the ladies present, illustrating that ladies are never too old to enjoy dolls! Grace gave an explanation of St. David’s Day and how it is celebrated in Welsh schools. We sang the Welsh song “We’ll keep a Welcome in the Hillsides,” and the Welsh national anthem (Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau). The event was a great success and I post below some of the pictures that I took.