St Davidís Day
St David, the patron saint of Wales
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2012)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the origin of St David’s Day.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (St David's Day) and the means to display them.
- Show Slides 1 and 2.
Ask the students what the leek and the daffodil have in common. Hopefully, someone will connect them as the national emblems of Wales.
- Explain that 1 March is traditionally known as St David’s Day. St David is the patron saint of Wales. But who was he and why are the daffodil and the leek associated with St David’s Day?!
- Very little is known for certain about St David. He was born around 500 AD and according to tradition, he lived to the age of about 100 – extremely old in those days! Apparently, he had a dramatic start in life: 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 storm.
St David was a monk and a bishop. He became well-known as a preacher and teacher, wandering around Wales telling people about Christianity, devoting himself to helping people and setting up monasteries. It is said that he was the leader of a revival of the Christian faith in Wales during the sixth century.
It is recorded that St David occasionally performed miracles too. His most famous miracle occurred when he was speaking to a large crowd and the people at the back complained that they couldn’t see him or hear him. According to the story, the ground on which he stood suddenly rose up to form a small hill so that everyone had a good view.
On his deathbed, St David uttered the words, ‘Do the little things, the small things you’ve seen me doing.’ These words are often repeated in Wales on St David’s Day.
- On St David’s Day, many people in Wales - and Welsh people all over the world - wear a leek or a daffodil.
Shakespeare refers to Welshmen wearing leeks on St David’s Day and calls it ‘an ancient tradition’, but the origins of the tradition are obscure. One suggestion is that the leek became the symbol for Wales following a battle between the Welsh and Saxon (English) armies in the sixth century, which, it is said, took place in a field full of leeks. The Welsh army were told by St David to place a leek in their helmets to distinguish themselves from the Saxon enemy.
Show Slide 3.
Today, the leek is often seen at international rugby matches, and it is also the emblem on the cap badges of soldiers in Welsh regiments.
- Show Slide 4.
In recent times, the daffodil has gained in popularity as the Welsh emblem, probably because people feel more comfortable wearing it and it smells better! Another reason may be that in Welsh, both contain the same word: the Welsh for ‘leek’ is cenhinen and for ‘daffodil’, it is cenhinen bedr, the literal translation of which is ‘Peter’s leek’.
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, the small things you’ve seen me doing. 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 – that we forget about doing the little things.
Are there little things that we should be doing – caring for someone, making up a broken friendship, saying sorry, being kind, encouraging someone? It is often the little things that 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 could make a huge difference to somebody else.
Please help us always to look for opportunities to encourage other people and be kind,
And help us never to be too busy to help others.