St. David’s Day – March 1st 2013 in Abbotsford

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.



A staff member shows a residents a Welsh tea towel.

A staff member shows a resident a Welsh tea towel.

Grace holding "Myfanwy"

Grace holding Myfanwy

Our sister-in-law Beryl

Our sister-in-law Beryl

Kay with her mum Beryl

Kay with her mum Beryl

Staff member holding Myfanwy

Staff member holding Myfanwy

Staff member holding the Welsh flag

Staff member holding the Welsh flag

A very proud Welsh lady - Grace

A lady who is very proud of her Welsh heritage – Grace

They are listening to Grace talking about Wales

They are listening to Grace talking about Wales

Distributing the Welsh cakes

Distributing the Welsh cakes

Family Group - Back row L to R Jan, her mother Doris (wife of Martin's late brother Gerry), front row Kay, Beryl (all these were born in Wales). The lad on the right is another resident.

Family Group – Back row: L to R Jane, her mum Doris (wife of Martin’s late brother Gerry), Grace. Front row: Kay, Beryl (all these were born in Wales). The lady on the right is another resident and the lady on the extreme right married a Welshman from the Rhondda Valley.


About mgouldth

Retired pastor and schoolteacher.
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2 Responses to St. David’s Day – March 1st 2013 in Abbotsford

  1. says:

    Thank you, glad to see you are spreading the word that Wales is a small but beautiful country whose patron saint deserves to be better known. I feel a little envious that St Patrick’s day is so well celebrated in the “new world” but not March 1st. Thank you once again



  2. Marion and Colin Jones says:

    Thank you for sharing this – it’s a real encouragement to see how easily it was for you to be accepted into the home and what a simple but happy occasion you made it for so many. It’s so sad that even today here in the UK so many “old” folk are just left to stagnant all day in care homes.

    We are constantly learning more and more each day about these “crazy Welsh fanatics” that we now live amongst.

    Good to Grace looking so well, always with the happy smile and hoping you too, Martin, are keeping well

    God bless you both


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