St David, the Patron Saint of Wales
St Davidís Day is on 1 March
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2009)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explain the origins of St David’s Day and explore who St David actually was.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leek and a daffodil. If these are not available, have available images of them and the means to display them during the assembly:
- leeks, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7cjcmwn
- a daffodil, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8qp8j3e
- You will also need an image of the cap badge from the Welsh Guards and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y7wt78lv
- You may wish to play a recording of a Welsh choir singing ‘Guide me, O thou great redeemer/Jehovah’ at the end of the assembly, in which case you will also need the means to do this. An example (3.00 minutes long) is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5NOVcefEYU
- Show the leek and the daffodil, or the images of them.
Ask the students if they know what the leek and the daffodil have in common. Explain that they are both national emblems for Wales.
- 1 March is traditionally known as St David’s Day. St David is the patron saint of Wales. But who is he and why are the daffodil and the leek associated with him?
- St David was born around 500 AD, and tradition says that he lived to about 100 years old, which was extremely old in those days. It is recorded that he was conceived after his mother had a violent encounter with a man, and that he was born on top of a cliff during a violent storm.
David became a well-known preacher and teacher, travelling around Wales to tell people about Christianity and setting up monasteries in many places. He is recorded as occasionally performing miracles. His most famous miracle took place when he was speaking to a large crowd. The people at the back complained that they couldn’t see or hear him. According to the story, the ground on which he stood suddenly rose up to form a small hill so that everyone now had a good view.
- On his deathbed, St David uttered the words, ‘Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about.’ These words are often repeated in Wales on St David’s Day and ‘Do ye the little things in life’ has become a very well-known phrase in Welsh.
- On St David’s Day, many people in Wales - and Welsh people all over the world - wear a leek or a daffodil to celebrate the day. It is thought that the leek became the symbol for Wales following an occasion when soldiers in the Welsh army were told to place a leek in their helmets to distinguish themselves from the English enemy, who were dressed in a similar way. It is also thought that this battle took place in a field full of leeks.
- Today, the leek is the emblem on the cap badges of the soldiers in the Welsh Guards. It is also often seen at international rugby matches.
Show the image of the cap badge from the Welsh Guards.
- In recent years, the Welsh emblem has moved towards a daffodil, which people probably feel more comfortable wearing and which smells rather better! It is interesting to note that the Welsh for leek is Cenhinen, and the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Pedr, which translates as ‘Peter’s leek’. Some say that over the years, the two became confused until the daffodil was adopted as a second emblem of Wales.
- Different areas of Britain and Ireland are represented by different flowers/plants:
- England is represented by the rose
- Scotland is represented by the thistle
- Wales is represented by the daffodil
- Ireland is represented by the shamrock
Time for reflection
Take a moment to think about the words that St David spoke before he died: ‘Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about . . . I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.’
Sometimes, we can become so caught up in the big things in life – exams, careers, money and so on – that we forget about doing the little things. Are there little things that we should be doing? Maybe caring for someone, making up a broken friendship, saying sorry, being kind or encouraging someone? It is often the little things we do in life that can make the biggest difference.
Help us never to forget that other people matter.
Help us to take the time each day to do something little that can make a huge difference to somebody else.
Please help us always to look for opportunities to encourage other people and to be kind,
And help us never to be too busy to help others.
A recording of a Welsh choir singing ‘Guide me, O thou great redeemer/Jehovah’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5NOVcefEYU