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St David's Day, Prejudice and Pride

Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus i bawb!

( Sorry, Dafydd - I know these aren't Welsh Mountains...)

Sorry, I know these aren't Welsh Mountain sheep, Dafydd...

I wish us all plenty of cawl, leeks, daffs. harp music, red shirts, bara brith, small round cakes with raisins, dragons and tall hats - but for one day only. So, what does Wales mean to me? Well, the language and the land; the language in and on the land; in the wonderful place names (oh, long may they last!) and in the sound of the words filling the air over Cymru. When a country has its own language, it's easy to have an identity. I love our proverbs, for instance ' Derfydd dannedd merch yn gynt na'i thafod' and 'Y cyntaf i'r felin gaiff falu' - well said.

Is 'Welsh' a set of different clothes, different food; a different religion, different habits, for instance? In the 'prejudice' camp perhaps, a strange diary entry by the eccentric diarist Samuel Pepys records: 'I do observe, it being St David's Day, the picture of a man, dressed like a Welshman, hanging by the neck upon one of the poles, which is one of the oddest sights I have seen in a good while'. Mind-boggling! What is 'dressed like a Welshman'? How did a Welshman dress that was different from an Englishman in the Seventeenth Century and that would have been immediately recognisable? Why was the effigy hanging from a pole like some sort of 'Guy' figure? Was it to be burned, ridiculed or adored? Love it! More research required...

On the 'makes me proud' bench, Tolkein's O'Donnell Lecture (1955): 'Welsh is of the soil, this island, the senior language of the men of Britain; and Welsh is beautiful'. Yes!

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