Everyone take a leek

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... and hoist it in honor of St. David's Day, the national day of the Principality of Wales, with a rousing rendition of "Men of Harlech."

Here it is again, in Welsh and English, sung by Charlotte Church with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir:

Finally, the hymn "Cwm Rhondda" ("Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah") and "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau," the Welsh national anthem:

Why a leek?

The connection between Wales and the leek is obscure. Most authors trying to trace the link come up with one or other of the legends that show it was used by the Welsh as a cap badge in battle to show friend from foe

One version is that St David advised the Britons on the eve of a battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps so that they could easily distinguish friend from foe. This apparently helped to secure a great victory.

Another version has the same thing happening at the Battle of Agincourt, when Welsh archers fought with Henry V against the French. The leeks in their caps distinguished them from their enemies

In any event the leek is firmly associated with the Welsh today. Leeks are worn on St David's Day. It is still a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David's Day.

Appropriately enough, the daffodils are just about to bloom here in Tulsa.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 1, 2008 9:38 PM.

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