Have you ever heard of St. David’s Day?
I personally had never heard of it before until I was invited to a St.David’s Day gathering this weekend to enjoy in the heritage festivities of the this Welsh tradition.
Now most everyone has heard of St. Patrick’s day, have you not? This saint is from Ireland. We drink green beer and Irish traditions are well known around the world. However, St. David was born some time in the middle of the 6th century, about 542 AD, in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and is thus the only one of the British Saints to be Patron of his home country.
St David also known as Dewi Sant was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.
The most famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing him. He was known as a powerful orator and many legends grew up about miraculous events around him.
St. David died on March 1st in 589 AD and he was canonised in 1120; his feast has been celebrated on the anniversary of his death ever since.
There are many customs and traditions to be enjoyed by all. Of course there is rugby but that is a little difficult to play in an apartment in Hong Kong. So instead one of the guests shared with us the story behind the Welsh Heart (Love) Spoons and the tribute to their rugby teams. Welsh heart spoons have the tradition of being gifted during weddings or other significant joyous events. Each carving has distinct meanings and sediment to those it is passed on to and is cherished by the family or team it is given to.
The Welsh Heart Spoons are carved from one piece of wood to display the carver’s skill. The carver uses nothing more than a pin-kinfe, or small pocket-knife. The handle received his full attention and skills, eventually being carved with piercings, relief, fretwork, or all three woodcarving techniques.
Wooden chains, swivels, balls within chains and rings displayed even greater skills, as the carvers figured out how to make these from one piece of wood.
During St. David’s Day celebrations there is a lot of singing, playing of the harp and of course eating. The national emblems of Wales is the daffodil and the leek. Our dear hostess created a lovely potato and leek soup and I needed to bring a dish to pass.
St. David’s Day Welsh Cakes
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Recipe in Oct 2012 Jamie Making you a Better Cook Magazine
Makes about 32 cakes (maybe more as my teenager was eating them hot off the griddle faster than I could count them)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 cups coconut flour (just because I ran out of regular flour but it really makes the cakes yummy)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups raisins
- 4 eggs
- 8 tablespoons milk (I used soy milk)
- Oil spray
- Extra sprinkle of granulated sugar for garnishing
- Garnishes (butter, assorted jams, honey, even shipped cream and berries- whatever your little heart desires)
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into bowl. Add butter and mix until resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar and raisins. Beat the eggs lightly and add to flour mixture with just enough milk to make a firm dough similar to shortcrust pastry.
- Chill dough 1 to 2 hours.
- Roll the dough to 1/4 inch on floured surface and cut with 3 inch rounds. (I used a glass to make round circles and one of my heart-shaped cookie cutters) Bake the cakes on a greased griddle over low heat until golden brown. Cool and sprinkle with sugar. These also freeze well.
- Enjoy St. David’s Day Welsh cakes on this special day or any day you want a lovely snack, yummy breakfast treat or tea time treat. Traditionally it is served with jams or honey. You can also really kick it up with some whipping cream and berries for a real treat. They can be served hot off the griddle my favorite or at room temperature. Happy St. David’s Day!