Never heard of him? You should. This vegetarian, peace-loving, ice bath aficionado is a hard-core saint who was related to the legendary King Arthur. And the whole of Wales loves him as its patron.
March 1 is David’s official day and it’s been celebrated as the national day of Wales since the 12th Century. Not much written history exists about David but, like most ancient saints, there are plenty of legends about him.
One is that he was born in the 6th Century on a cliff top during a fierce storm, a nephew of Arthur. David became a priest and supposedly performed several miraculous healings during his life. Legend says that during a battle against the Saxons, David advised his soldiers to wear leeks in their hats so that they could easily be distinguished from their enemies. Now the leek is an emblem of Wales.
David is said to have lived 100 years. During that time he traveled extensively throughout the British Isles and beyond. He was a bishop and founded 12 monasteries. It is said he practiced self-penance by wading up to his neck into ice water and reciting Scripture. He was canonized in 1120 and at least 50 churches in South Wales alone bear his name.
Want to celebrate with the Welsh? Choose a leek. You can wear it, eat it (recipes below), or put it under your pillow so that you will dream of your future husband.
If you want to be an authentic follower of David then you’ll opt for the vegetarian Welsh Rarebit (http://britishfood.about.com/od/start3/r/leekwelshrbit.htm). But if you’re a meat eater, you can chop up that leek and cook up some hearty Beef Leek and Mushroom Stew (http://britishfood.about.com/od/adrecipes/r/beefstewmush.htm).
Either way, a quick swim after dinner in icy waters might make you appreciate St. David more than just about anything.