01 March, 2012

It's St. David's Day! Eat My Leek!

I want to wish everyone safe travels and issue a reminder to hold on to your possessions on busy trains, in hostels, in market places, etc. A lost or stolen passport is a proper pain. Make sure also that you carry the appropriate papers to get back ‘home’ to London. Some immigration officers can be difficult.

CELEBRATE TODAY not because spring break begins at 4.45pm [by the way, the next person who wishes me a ‘good’ break will be banned from my office for the rest of the term, which means no coffee talks!], but also because it is our first national day of the year. The UK is a land made up of four ‘home nations’, the dominant English, the haggis-eating Scots, the singing Welsh, and the green and orange Irish. Each has a patron saint and a ‘national’ day, but there is no unified national day, i.e., no British JULY 4th. David is Wales’ patron saint and March 1st is his day; next comes the famous ‘Patrick’ who was a Romanised Briton [possibly Welsh] on March 17th; the dragon slayer, St George England follows on Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23rd; and, ostracised at the other end of the year is Andrew of Scotland [Nov. 30th] who, condemned to death for his religious beliefs, deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on an upright cross as Jesus was and so he died on a ‘saltire’, a cross on its side [an ‘x’]. now Scotland’s national symbol.

Today is a special day for about 3 million Britons, the Welsh. It is St David’s day and down in the valleys, in the central mountains, along the Irish sea coastline and in the north-western castellar landscape, the welsh are celebrating. Men will wear the leek [the national vegetable] and kitchens will be busy turning out welsh cakes. Wales is unique in several ways: the dragon is its national symbol, Brains its most famous beer, it is the only country conquered by the Romans [who soon left] not subsequently taken over by a ‘barbarian’ tribe, it has NO PLACE IN THE UNION FLAG  [an amazing slap in the face], it is officially bilingual, it is the home of the Arthurian legends, it provided the country with the Tudor dynasty, it just won rugby’s triple crown, it is famous for male voice choirs and dissenting Protestantism [chapels] and, in some areas, the Welsh had to live under strict sabbatarian laws meaning that it was not the most fun place in the world to live.

Remember when you pick travel destinations, there is no place like home. VISIT WALES and try some Brains.


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