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On March 1st Cardiff celebrates the nation's patron saint with the National St David's Day parade and runs alongside a variety of other events in and around the city.
Annually, 1 March
11.30am: Meet at Civic Centre, Cathays Park
12:30pm: Parade begins
1.15pm: A rendition of the national anthem.
Written May 16, 2012
Phone: + 44 (0) 29 2021 3629
When I booked my trip and decided to arrive in Cardiff in the evening of the 29th of February, I did not even know that the 1st of March was the national holiday. It was only when we prepared a VT meeting that Sean mentioned it and I learned about the significance of the date. So it happened that my first day in Wales was full of celebrations - it was very special.
In the morning, when I walked around the city centre and Civic Centre, I already saw the preparations going on, and after lunch I witnessed the end of the big parade, with school children, groups of people in traditional costume, and music bands.
I then visited the castle, but when I walked back to my hostel in the later afternoon, I again saw some bands performing on the street.
I had a brand new camera (the old one had just broken in Scotland), so for the first time I was able to take videos, and this was of course the perfect occasion to try it out for the first time!
I took two, one of the singing of the National Anthem in the end of the main festivities, and one when I walked home and stopped to listen to a band of bagpipe players and other instruments.
St David's Day is held on the 1st of March because legend has it that on this day the Patron Saint of Wales, St David (in Welsh Dewi Sant, died. He was a celtic saint who lived in the 6th century and founded a monastery in Pembrokeshire. According to legend, he was a strict ascetic and also went to Jerusalem where he was made Archbishop. He became a very popular figure during the resistance against the Normans. St David's Day has been a national day since the 18th century, but was only declared a public holiday in the year 2000.
Apart from the festivities all around the city, there were also decorations of daffodils, one of the national flowers. Many people were wearing daffodils on their clothing, for example on the collar or lapel.
Updated Apr 13, 2012
The daffodil has become the national flower or emblem of Wales. I noticed this right away - my first day in Cardiff was St David's Day, the national day, and there were daffodils all over the place. The lampposts were decorated with huge daffodils, people were wearing small daffodils on their lapels, backpacks or t-shirts, and you could even buy big inflatable daffodils!
I wondered why the daffodil was so important and assumed that there must be a story behind it, but although I asked several people about it, I did not really get an answer.
Originally leek was the national flower. It was worn by Welsh soldiers presumably already when they fought the Saxons, and is also mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry V. As I was told, it is still a custom to eat a raw leek on St David's Day - or to force somebody else to do it ;-)
My tour guide told me that the daffodil was adopted simply because it is prettier, but I could not really believe that this was the only reason. Doing some research at home I read that the words for leek and for daffodil are the same in Welsh (ceninen or cenhinen), so this might indeed be the reason - but if it is the only one seems obscure.
When visiting Cardiff and other places in Wales I did see many, many daffodils - I don't know if they really grow everywhere naturally or if they were deliberately planted because of their status as national emblem, but they certainly looked beautiful and created an atmosphere of spring :-)
Updated Apr 12, 2012
I came to Cardiff after I had spent ten days in Scotland, and I was surprised how present the Welsh language was in Cardiff, as opposed to the Gaelic language in Edinburgh.
Almost all of the public signs in Cardiff (and the other places I visited) are in both languages, in English and in Welsh. Of course that means that many signs are rather big :-)
I just loved this because it always, always reminded me that I was in Wales now. I also love the looks of the language, I think the words just look so beautiful, even if you don't have any idea of how to pronounce them or of what they mean.
I later talked to some people about it and learned this:
"dd" is pronounced like the English th
"w" is a vowel and is pronounced like u
"ll" is pronounced similar to the German sound ch (the soft version, like in weich)
"f" is pronounced like v (as in volunteer), while "ff" is pronounced like English f
"y" is pronounced differently depending on the position in the word, but most often it is the ə (schwa sound), just an unstressed, neutral sound.
Of course I can't vouch for this, and it is utterly simplified, but it is just what I learned as a total beginner when I asked some people about Welsh pronunciation. Quite complicated, but after I learned these rules I always tried to pronounce things I read on public signs - good that nobody listened to my efforts! ;-)
As I said, I was very surprised that it was so present everywhere, and I was happy when I even heard people talking Welsh on the bus to Brecon, and on the train from Abergavenny to Cardiff. I thought that this would only happen in the north of Wales, but apparently some people even use it in these parts of the country.
If you now feel like hearing some Welsh, here is a funny video: How you doin'
Updated Apr 12, 2012
Type 42 Destroyer
The last HMS Cardiff was the third ship of the Royal Navy to be named in honour of the Welsh city and was launched on 22 February 1974. The ship was decommissioned on 14 July 2005 after earning two battle honours for service in the Falklands and the Gulf wars. She was sent to Turkey to be scrapped despite calls for her to be preserved as a museum ship and local tourist attraction in Cardiff.
Updated Dec 8, 2011
GWR 4073 Castle Class
The GWR 4073 Class or Castle class locomotives are a group of 4-6-0 steam locomotives built by the Great Western Railway. When introduced the Castle Class were heralded as Britain’s most powerful express passenger locomotive. The Cardiff Castle was built in January 1924 the locomotive was withdrawn in November 1961 and cut up in March 1962.
Written Dec 7, 2011
About a quarter of the Welsh population still speak the ancient Celtic language Welsh, which is not an English dialect. To promote the Welsh language, most roadsigns are bilingual in Wales: English and Welsh.
When visiting a foreign country, it is always nice and helpful to speak at least a few words in the local language. So here are a few useful phrases in Welsh:
Cymru = Wales
Shw mae = Hello
Bore da = Good morning
Dydd da = Good day
Hwyl = Bye
Diolch = Thanks
Updated Mar 1, 2010
The most popular local beers in South Wales are the ales of Brains, which are brewed in Cardiff.
The brewery was founded in 1882 and in 1997 it acquired Crown Buckley, which is another local leading brewery. The range of traditional ales include: Brains Bitter, Brains Dark and Brains SA.
During our VT meeting I had a few Pints of Brains SA in the Goat Major and I have to admit that it tastes delicious. And no, I didn't have a hang over the next morning ... ;-)
Updated Mar 1, 2010
Brains Beer is Brewed just minutes outside of the City Centre, just behind the Central Train Station. If you are arriving in Cardiff by train the Brains Brewery may well be the first thing you see. Their Beer is served widely throughout Wales and the Brewery owns hundreds of pubs selling their finest ales and very good locally produced food.
Written Oct 16, 2009
St David ( his name in Welsh is Dewi Sant), is the patron saint of Wales. He was a Celtic monk, bishop and abbot as well as the archbishop of Wales, who lived in the sixth century.
They celebrate St Davids day in the first day of March.
It's customary for the men to wear a leak and the ladies a daffodil.
Written Mar 5, 2008
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