Christian: Learn about Wales on St. David’s Day

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THURSDAY, MARCH 1: First, if you love Welsh culture, don’t be late this year! Cardiff’s celebration, of course, focuses on March 1, the saint’s feast day. But Cardiff’s festive schedule of events runs from February 29 to March 3. And, if you’re really intrigued by Welsh culture, the Twitter feed for updates and other Welsh news about St. David’s Day already is in full swing. That feed includes Tweeted links to the St. David’s 2012 Facebook page, where you’ll find photos and more cool stuff.

As you will read in our story today, there’s serious reason to promote Wales this week—helping the Welsh to raise awareness of their land’s cultural gems and tourism potential. Those tourist destinations include St. David’s Cathedral (shown above today), which is the chief pilgrimage destination for those seeking to learn more about this longstanding hero of Welsh culture.

St. David is the most renowned saint of Wales and Welsh leaders proudly use their saint to promote their land and culture around the world. St. David lived in Wales during the 6th century as a bishop, and his establishment of several monasteries and churches led to canonization. Eventually, St. David became known as the Patron Saint of Wales.

DAVID’S WISDOM: ‘DO THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE’

Details on this saint’s life are few and the historical record is debated to this day. Most versions of his life stem from a hagiography written by Rhygyfarch in the late 11th century, and some historians believe other motives influenced the accuracy of his work. (Wikipedia has details.) Still, the consensus is that David oversaw his monks with extremity: His Monastic Rule allowed only bread, vegetables and water as food; monks were forbidden from having any personal possessions; and ploughs had to be pulled without the help of animals. (Learn more from AmericanCatholic.) This preacher and teacher has often been depicted with a dove on his shoulder, an iconic image from a miracle attributed to David.

Some believe David lived more than 100 years—although, even today, it’s estimated that only 1 in 4,400 humans live to this ripe old age. In the end, David’s last words have been shortened into a well known Welsh phrase: “Do the little things in life.”

WELSH CULTURE CIRCLES THE GLOBE …

All spotlights will be on Wales this week as the Welsh Government promotes its country in full: In Brussels, the First Minister will host the Welsh Government’s annual reception; in China, “Wales Week” will take place in Chongqing and events will touch Beijing and Shanghai; in New York, “Wales Week New York” will premier “Hunky Dory” and host a UN Welsh breakfast; and in Ireland, Visit Wales will garner interest in Wales tourism. (News Wales has details.) Interested in experiencing a taste of Wales for yourself? Try some St. David’s recipes from a chef at at Celtic Manor, courtesy of Wales Online.

… BUT WELSH FAMILIES SUFFER AT HOME

https://readthespirit.com/religious-holidays-festivals/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2013/03/wpid-0227_Pembroke_Castle_Wales.jpgPembroke Castle, the birthdplace of the future King Henry VII, is another popular tourist destination in Wales.This year, Wales can use all the promotion it can get, according to an editorial in Wales Online. The editorial’s headline sums up the state of affairs: “Is Anyone Planning a Party in Austery Shackled Wales This St. David’s Day?” The commentary details recent Welsh moves toward greater political autonomy—accompanied by dire indications that the Welsh economy is lagging behind other areas of the UK. Even more important, however, is quality of life in Wales. Various markers show that families are suffering. The editorial says, in part:

The National Health Service (NHS) in Wales is suffering from soaring levels of stress-related sickness; there have been horrifying reports of a lack of neonatal provision; and at the end of last year 7,699 people had been on a waiting list for more than 36 weeks; there are acute difficulties in filling vacancies in much of Wales and the … NHS chiefs are in danger of making “slash and burn” cuts to deal with deficits. On the cultural front, Welsh TV channel S4C faces cuts in funding in the coming years and supporters of the Welsh language fear the vanishing of its use in heartland areas. … Imagination is urgently needed in Wales as the threat of a new recession looms and government faces the challenge of doing more with less.”

So, this year, if you love Wales—think about promoting awareness and tourism, Welsh leaders are urging. As a first step, why not email, Facebook or Tweet friends with this story on St. David’s Day. Click the headline and cut and paste this story’s Permalink for your friends.

Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.

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