Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus Pawb! / Happy St David’s Day Everyone!
In case you didn’t already know – I’m from Wales, and I’m a little bit proud of it. By little – I mean a lot. You’ll know this if you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of standing or sitting next to me while Wales are playing rugby.
Today is a day to celebrate all things wonderful and Welsh – and there’s a lot for us to get through!
We have our own version of Hygge in Wales (except it’s actually a lot older!) It’s called ‘Hiraeth.’ Just hearing that word makes me feel warm inside.
I think Hiraeth is something all Welsh people are born with, there is no direct English translation, but in my heart it means ‘a longing, wistfulness, desire and a love of your home nation.’
Sometimes people liken it to homesickness, but I personally like to couch it in more positive terms. For me, it’s knowing that home is where the heart is – and you will always find comfort there (whether physically in the moment or through memories.)
Here are 40 things about Wales that fill my heart with joy, pride and hiraeth – and serve as a constant reminder as to why, in my opinion, Wales is the most beautiful & special country in the world.
1) The floodlights on a rain soaked rugby pitch on a wet and cold Thursday evening as the local team trains, regardless of the weather.
2) The parents on a windswept rugby touchline on a freezing cold Sunday morning as their son or daughter starts their campaign to become the next fly half for Wales.
3) Being 13, spending your Friday evening wandering aimlessly around your town or valley with your best friends, huddling for shelter in the local chip shop when it inevitably starts to rain, then deciding to brave the downpour because you’re invincible – and you don’t mind eating soggy chips (with curry sauce, obviously)
4) The fact that you’ve known your hairdresser, your GP, your milkman, your dentist and your paperboy since you were knee high to a grasshopper.
5) The rivalry between your school and the one about 100 yards down the road – especially on inter-sports day. Even when you grow up, if someone tells you they went to the rival school – you can never be friends.
6) Feeling like you’re a Hollywood superstar when you get dressed up in your traditional Welsh clothes on Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant and have your picture taken for the local newspaper.
7) Hearing or singing Gwahoddiad, any time, any place.
8) Knowing that Wales invented cheese on toast – and still make it more badass than anyone else in the world.
9) The fact that everyone in Wales is really honest, as there is no point lying, everyone knows everyone and word travels fast.
10) Having poetry in your veins – from day one.
11) The word Butty and what it signifies – a special kind of friendship you won’t find anywhere else.
12) Going up the Snowdon mountain railway and being a total gangster by sticking your head out the window while it travels 5 miles an hour.
13) The never-ending variety of weird and wonderful Welsh Cake recipes – Baileys and Cardamom anyone?!
14) Saying ‘thank you drive’ to anyone who ever gives you a lift. Even an Ambulance.
15) BBQs on the local beach every weekend when the temperature is higher than 8 degrees.
16) Witnessing sunrise at Tintern Abbey.
17) Hearing A Thousand Trees by The Stereophonics.
18) Aneurin Bevan and Wales’ part in the creation of the NHS.
19) Getting to the top of Pen Y Fan and feeling like you are quite literally on top of the world (even though Snowdon is taller, but you’re not quite that fit yet)
20) Welsh devotion to our history, tradition, culture and those that have come before us.
23) The lights of the steel works in Port Talbot at night.
22) Driving through the valleys and realising they are all set out exactly the same, but all have their own distinct personality.
23) Our relentless optimism, confidence and sense of pride in all our sporting teams.
24) Our anthem.
(Look at the passion on the player’s faces: I was in tears all this day)
25) This sign.
26) Driving past Castell Coch on the A470 and truly believing Sleeping Beauty lives there.
27) Da Mhile Seaweed Gin
(Trust me, just go buy it here )
28) Cardiff on an international rugby day
29) (and if you don’t like rugby) Going anywhere else in Wales on an international rugby day.
30) llanfairpwllgwingyllgogeryllwydrobollllantasiliogogogoch – and the fact that once you’ve learned how to say it, you never forget.
31) Learning all about science at Techniquest
32) Remembering my Mamgu speaking Welsh – and being reminded of her any time I hear our beautiful language.
33) Every town’s local hero – being from Ogmore Vale and Bridgend, ours were Dibble and Dobbsy.
34) Welsh nicknames – hardly anyone in my school went by their given name!
35) The Garden Festival of Wales 1992.
36) Pobl Y Cwm, Sali Mali and Pam Fi Duw.
37) The little pink house at St Fagans History museum.
38) Blackmill bends, and remembering every time my dad drove me home (slightly tipsy) after a night out in Nantymoel with my friends.
39) Derek Brockway taking on a zipwire. Watch it here, you won’t regret it.
40) Our world class flag. (a reminder of how kick ass our patron saint was, Go on Dai!)
I would love to add in more Hiraeth filled memories, reflections and joys of Wales – especially as I am from South Wales and would like to reflect the thoughts of people in other parts of Wales. Maybe you’ve visited Wales on holidays? Or have moved on somewhere else and still have fond memories? Email me at email@example.com and I will add them to my list!
Wherever you are, have a happy St David’s Day – and come to visit Wales soon!