Friday, March 01, 2013

Happy St. David's Day & Welsh Cross-dressing Riots

Happy Saint David’s day! I hope you had Welsh Cakes while wearing your leek or daffodil. St. David is the Patron Saint of Wales and March 1st is the annual celebration of Welsh culture (protected and isolated from the invasions and change in England over the centuries by Offa’s Dyke (which may be atop the Wall of Severus from 4th century Roman Britian).

Let’s not forget Merched Beca, Rebecca’s Daughters, a four year campaign in 1840’s by the farmers and land workers of protests and riots in full drag. ‘Rebecca’ targeted and destroyed toll gates, seeking a way for farmers and working families to grow food and sell it without taxation or profit by those already rich. Interesting that leaving social and civil law also meant cross dressing. I can only think of so many farm wives saying, ‘tsk, but you’ve stretched it all to pieces!’

Boo to Tony Blair who in 2007 ignored the 87% of Wales that wanted March 1st a bank holiday and rejected the petition. Though St. David’s day has a long history of bringing out patriotism as Samuel Pepys wrote how ‘Welsh celebrations in London for Saint David's Day would spark wider countercelebrations amongst their English neighbours: life-sized effigies of Welshmen were symbolically lynched.’

Welsh have historically been considered ignorant, poor and the Welsh people are associated with stealing and cheating, hence ‘Welshing on a deal.’ Plus how oft the thief or cheat was welsh in boys’ tales and girls’ tales of Victorian and Edwardian period it is good to remember: the future King of Britain is first the Prince of Wales.


D. Emerson Evans said...

And don't forget that lovely English children's ditty "Taffy was a Welshman"!

Kate J said...

Personally I'm not in favour of March 1st being a public holiday in Wales. Reason? At the moment it's a big day for children all over the country, when 'normal' school is suspended and they get to dress up (these days, that often means the red shirt of the national Rugby team), and spend the day singing, dancing, cooking (welsh cakes) and celebrating all things Welsh. I helped with some St David's Day events at our local primary school and everyone was having a great time! Make it a public holiday and they'll spend the day watching TV or being dragged round the shops by their harassed parents - which is what generally seems to happen on public holidays in Britain! Just my personal opinion... and I may well be out of step with the rest of the population of Wales!
Thanks for marking the occasion, Beth, and introducing some of your many followers and friends to the Rebecca 'riots', a great bit of Welsh history.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus iawn i ti!
Love and peace

JaneB said...

I had leeks in cheese sauce, does that count?? Ah, the Rebecca riots, one of the more entertaining bits of history. I do rather like the idea that being in drag would be such a great disguise... or maybe a shocking distraction so individuals wouldn't be identified?

Anonymous said...

Damn. I had a lovely reply typed, and messed up the verification process; thus, I lost my stunning prose.

Kate J. makes a good case for keeping St. David's Day a non-holiday.

And the Rebecca Riots are something I hadn't heard of; perhaps it's time for a similar revolt against Monsanto???

Love and zen hugs,

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention my favourite actress is Welsh. I don't care how I die, as long as I can hear Eve Myles reciting the local telephone directory as I go. I am completely smitten by her accent. Welsh, of coure. :)

More hugs,

Neil said...

Beth, me luv: We had leek-almond soup yesterday. Does that make it less bad that we forgot St David's day?

And my brother David celebrated his birthday on February 28. I wonder if our parents chose the name for its proximity to March 1. After all, Dad did spend time each year in Wales with his uncle....

Yeah, there's Welsh in me. KateJ: is there still hope for me? :)

Loe and zen hugs,

Elizabeth McClung said...

D. Emerson Evans: yes, saw a Fry and Laurie Sketch yesterday and indicated something was very, very wrong with a person one says, "My god! He isn't Welsh is he?" ah.

Kate J: You make compelling reasons of keeping it non bank holiday in order to create a combined cultural experience through school, the way the Japanese do. We usually go look at the dafodils over here.

Jane: yes, I'm not sure who came up with the cross dressing idea, but it got them noticed through history.

Neil: Sorry for the verification, but I was getting over 100 spam comments A DAY. It bulked my inbox to 23,000. Lots of good and famous actors and actress' - but often not seen as welsh, like Catherine Zeta-Jones, who looks often Latino.