Scott Williams scored the try in an amazing run that left the English gasping.
If you don’t follow rugby, this may not seem significant but Cymru has taken its rugby very seriously for most of the late 20th and all of the 21st Centuries. Rugby is war. Beating the English is the ultimate goal. Winning the Triple Crown is the top prize of the four home teams: Cymru, Alba, Eire and England. Of the four, England is the team all the Celtic nations strive to beat – “As long as we beat the English” is the battlecry.
This year, Cymru has come out on top, in time for St. David’s Day. So is this history, you ask? You bet. Here are five exciting minutes of the game that earned Cymru prize.
March 1st is celebrated in Cymru as Gŵyl Dewi (St. David’s Day). As legend has it, Dewi Sant, son of Non (daughter of Cynyr Caer Goch), was conceived by rape and born on a cliff overlooking Môr Iwerddon (the Irish Sea), patron saint of Cymru. The date of his birth is unknown and variously set in the 5th and the 6th Century. March 1st is recognized as the day of his death but, again, the year is uncertain, c. AD589. (Note: In Europe, the date of death is celebrated, not the day of birth.)
Dewi’s best known teaching was “Gwnewch y pethau bychain” – do the small things. Legend purports these words were spoken at the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi, where Dewi Sant placed a small scarf on the grass and the ground rose so that he could be seen by the multitude who had come to hear him speak.
On this day, there are parades in the capital city, Caerdydd (Cardiff), community events such as feasts and festivals, schools hold concerts and religious services, children perform plays and adults arrange suppers. The Gymanfa Ganu and the Oedfa are favorite ways of celebrating the saint’s day. The Gymanfa is a singing festival and the Oedfa is a religious observance (also with singing). These celebrations occur all over the world, where ever Welsh people gather – from the metropolises of New York and Hong Kong to the battlefields of Afghanistan.
Pice Man, cawl and cwrw are the traditional fare in the community suppers, accompanied by – singing! As well as harping, piping, reciting and the utterly unique cerdd dant – the juxtaposition of two opposing tunes from harp and voice.
Traditional cawl is a lamb stew (February and March are lambing season around these parts). The variations on recipes depend on where in Cymru you are but the basic recipe is: 500g (1lb) lamb, 500g (1lb) potatoes, swede (rutabaga), leeks, onions, pan drippings (butter/cooking oil will do), seasoning (usually only salt & pepper) and water. Brown the lamb, quarter the potatoes, slice and dice the leeks, onions and swedes (not too small – this is a hearty dish for cold weather), and simmer for hours – or so my mother-in-law insisted.
This year, we will be in Lafayette, California attending a Cymanfa Ganu at the United Methodist Church – good Welsh non-conformists – with our fellow ex-patriots. The rest of the 6 Nations tournament for Cymru will be the games against Italy and France – two more European nations with which I have personal and professional ties.
Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i Bawb! Gwnewch y pethau bychain.