Monday, March 1, 2010

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus!

Today is St Davids's Day. Saint David (known as Dewi Sant in the Welsh language) is the patron saint of Wales. He was a Celtic monk who lived in the 6th Century and was Archbishop of Wales. His influence is shown by the number of churches dedicated to him in Wales. Saint David is credited with spreading Christianity to the pagan Celtic tribes. The date of 1 March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

The title of this blog entry means "Happy Saint David's day" to those who don't understand Welsh, which includes most Welsh people. According to the 2001 census, more than 70 per cent of the 2.8m people in Wales have no knowledge of the language.

The town with the longest name in the UK is on the island of Anglesey. It contains 58-letters and is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. It means: "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio near the red cave."

On St Davids's day, young girls dress up in the Welsh National costume (see photos), generally a red cloak and tall black hat. This largely developed during the nineteenth century. It was part of a conscious revival of Welsh culture during a period when traditional values were under threat. Many wear daffodils or leeks as emblems. The leek arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil. Welsh cakes (sometimes also known as bakestones, although that is really the griddle that they are cooked on) are made by the sackful.
Here's a recipe for Welsh cakes, bake and enjoy!


* 2 cups all purpose flour (280 grams)
* 1/3 cup granulated white sugar (65 grams)
* 2.1/4/ teaspoons baking powder
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoon ground mace
* ½ cup of cold unsalted butter (113 grams)
* 1/3 cup of dried currents.
* ¼ cup of chopped mixed peel
* 1 lightly beaten large egg
* 3-4 tablespoons of milk.


In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and mace, cut the butter into small pieces add to the mix and blend together with two knives (or mix by rubbing with your fingers) now the mixture should look like large crumbs. Add the currents and stir into the mix. Then add the beaten egg, and sufficient milk to make a light dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, gently kneed the dough until it is flat and about ¼ inch (0.75 cm) thick then with a round pastry cutter or a glass will do, cut into 2.1/2 inch circles.

Lightly butter a bake stone (griddle) or heavy frying pan and heat, place the mixture on the griddle and bake on each side for about five minutes until golden brown in color; they should still be soft on the inside.

Once baked sprinkle with granulated sugar and eat with Welsh butter, jam, honey or they are delicious plain as they come from the griddle.

Oh, and of course an ideal accompaniment is a nice, strong cup of tea!

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