Why are the Leek and the Daffodil the Symbols of Wales? Six Fun Facts for St. David's Day

Ever wondered why we wear leeks or daffodils on St. David's Day? Here are six fun facts.

Silver Leek Brooch

1. Because Leeks Win Battles

It all started with the leek. This was the original symbol of Wales and, as legend has it, originated from a great battle against the Saxons. St. David (or some sources say The C7th king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr) advised the Welsh to wear leeks in their hats to show which side they were on. It must have worked well, as the battle was won! 

2. Because Shakespeare Said So

The leek is mentioned as the symbol of Wales as early as William Shakespeare’s Henry V. There is additional evidence that shows Tudor guards wore leeks in their hats on 1st March to honour our patron saint.

3. Because Yum

We also grow lots of leeks - and they taste lovely (perfect in cawl!) Not sure about eating them raw, which is what soldiers of the Welsh regiments traditionally eat every St. David's Day!

welsh daffodil brooch

4. Because Daffodil Smaffodil

But what about the daffodil? This may have been an accident! The Welsh for leek is Cenhinen, which can be easily confused with the Welsh for daffodil, Cenhinen Pedr, which translates to "Peter's Leek". Eventually, as late as the C19th, it became the second symbol of Wales.


5. Because the Prime Minister Said So

David Lloyd George (the only Welsh Prime Minister from 1916-22) was said to be an advocate for them, as their beautiful bloom would often coincide with St. David's Day.

6. Because Daffodils are used for Drugs

Another interesting link is that daffodils are grown in Wales to produce galantamine, a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

So wear your leek or daffodil with pride this St. David's Day, and now you know the story behind our emblems!

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I now know why the Scottish are a bit cranky thistles in the hats boy that must hurt

Dain Smart

I now know why the Scottish are a bit cranky thistles in the hats boy that must hurt

Dain Smart

1 was a pupil in a secondary school in Llanelly our Headmistress was named Miss Thomas she was very strict and I remember if she saw any one not in uniform, beret, and the Daffodil on St David’s Day she would stop them in their tracks. Love the old Daffodils the School was behind Llanelly Town Hall.

Anne Freeman nee Howells

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Joe KAne
by Kelli Brown | Sep 4, 2018 | The Petal Press Blog | 0 comments

Daffodils | 10 Fun Facts and a funny little story.

The humble Daffodil is well known and much loved by just about everyone. Their bright color and cheerful, distinctive form make them irresistible both as a cut flower and in the garden. I just love them. When they start to appear at the markets and then pop up all over the neighborhood in pots and garden beds, I just know that Winter is drawing to a close and Spring will soon be here. And that makes me HAPPY!

Fun Facts:

Daffodils are also known as ‘Narcissus’ and belong to the Amaryllis family. Other members of the Amaryllis family are Agapanthus, Clivia, and Allium. Daffodils grow from bulbs and are native to the fields and woods of Southern Europe and North Africa. There are over 13,000 different varieties of Daffodil. That’s a lot! Those varieties are divided down into approximately 12 different types, characterised by the size and shape of their petals and corona. The correct term for a Daffodil’s trumpet or central cone is Corona! They are available from mid to late Winter and Spring. As a cut flower, Daffodils have a vase life of approximately 4-6 days. The sap from their cut stems can damage other flowers in a vase. If using in a mixed flower arrangement, place their stems in a separate vase of water for around an hour before adding them in. Do not re cut their stems. Daffodil bulbs are poisonous. They contain a substance called Lycorine. This can make people and animals very sick. Rabbits instinctively don’t go near them! The Daffodil is the national flower of Wales where they grow ‘Narcissus pseudonarcissus’ to produce Galantamine, a chemical used in the treatment of Alzheimers Disease. You can read a bit more about that here.
Joe KAne

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