Saying that Dewi is the Welsh for David is a very recent convention. In Welsh the correct translation for David is Dafydd.
So who was Dewi and why did he get replaced by David/Dafydd?
Dewi comes from the Welsh words Dyw i and refers to someone who was from God or of God and it all ties in with Christmas. The curious thing is that it was 3 centuries after the birth of Jesus before it was decided that Christmas should be celebrated on December 25th. This was done so that the celebrations would tie in with the festivals honouring Saturn (The Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light.)
No exact date is given in the Bible although it would seem to be some time in the Spring as the nativity story mentions lambs for example and they are always born in the Spring.
Christianity developed separately in Wales from the rest of the world. The Welsh records speak of Joseph of Arimathea coming to Wales after the Crucifixion and his grave can still be seen in the grounds around Cardiff Castle. He was often referred to in Welsh as Ilid which is thought to refer to him having come from Galillee. There are certainly remains of 1st Century churches across south Wales named after him. The rest of the “holy family” are also reported to have come to Wales after the crucifixion and physical evidence has now been found to confirm this.
It is also well recorded that Caradoc was betrayed by a tribe from North Wales around 81AD and was taken to Rome where he made his famous speech and plea to the Emperor Claudius. Rather than being publicly strangled to death as was done with other captured foreign leaders he was granted a large mansion on the Palantine. As he was already a Christian this is probably the way Christianity first arrived in Rome. His family was also with him and Linus is recorded as the first Bishop of Rome. Caradoc’s daughter is also recorded in the Catholic records as the first Christian martyr and there is a church in Rome still dedicated to her.
Recent discoveries in the ancient catacombs occupied by the early Christians have included drawings of the “Green man” and other British images and the archaeologists are struggling to find an explanation. There is also writing present which can now be read and will be covered at a later date.
It must be remembered that Rome was still pagan at this time and this was the start of their centuries of brutal persecution of Christians. This in itself makes it strange to think that the Romans brought Christianity to Britain rather than the other way around.
After the crucifixion the holy family of Jesus disappear from history. The old British records record that they escaped the clutches of the Roman empire by fleeing to their kinsmen in Britain. There are also other documents that describe this journey which will be covered in a future post. This was before the Claudian invasion was attempted around 55AD and Britain was one of the few areas not under Roman domination. Alan Wilson’s view that tracking down and destroying this fledgling Christian faith and the holy family was one of the motivations for attempting an invasion of Britain.
The people fleeing to Britain would have included Jesus’s mother and most likely his wife and at least one of his brothers. The route to Britain could well have included cutting across the narrow land bridge between France and Spain rather than take the longer and more hazardous journey around the Spanish peninsula which would tie in with the Madonna festivals held every year in the south of France where Mary is said to have come ashore.
Getting back to the subject of “Saint David’s Day” – his mother would certainly have known the birth date for her son Jesus and this appears to have been March 1st.
The choice of the daffodil as the national emblem is also significant as daffodils have six pointed petals and looks very similar to the Star of David. The round centre represents the sun and signifies the presence of Jesus. It also flowers in time for March 1st of course.
So the real Dydd Dewi Sant could well be a “Christmas” event commemorating the birth of Jesus rather than the 6th Century Dafydd.
The historical Dafydd that most people think represents the day was a cousin of Arthur and a very odd individual who will be getting his own post soon. In short, he did things like unyoking the cattle and making his monks do the pulling, tried to live on cabbage water and put himself and his followers through all sorts of hardships. He also had frequent land and money disputes with the rulers and was generally a nuisance for Arthur and those running the country.
One of the clashes was that Wales still followed the early “apostolic” church traditions that had come to them directly in the 1st Century whereas by the 6th Century enormous pressure was being mounted to conform to the Roman version. This included acknowledging the Pope as the head of the Church which contradicted the supremacy of the British Church which was claimed through pre-dating the Roman one. The British bishops had priority in the seating order for the early synods.
Dafydd was actively promoting the Roman view of Christianity and was in conflict with the less formal British-Welsh version and there was a lot of tension.
At some stage it seems that the British Church finally caved in to move their Christmas to December to fit in with the rest of the Christian Church. They also gradually agreed to change their dating which ran from the crucifixion of Christ to the Roman convention of dating from the birth. This difference has caused some of the dating problems with early British events as there is a 33 year lag.
Somewhere along the true reason for Dydd Dewi Sant became airbrushed out of history and replaced with Arthur’s cousin Dafydd who was at the vanguard of enforcing Roman conventions on to the native Cymric-Welsh. Ironic that he should now be considered a national hero and some people have even devised a banner to celebrate him and there are some moves to have this replace the red dragon.
The reason for the Welsh having the dragon as an emblem is an interesting story in itself. It was not imposed by foreign powers and has its roots all the way back to the Bible and the first Cymric people. A post on this will follow soon.
The idea of March 1st being Jesus’s day rather than Dafydd’s might seem controversial enough. The story of what happened to Jesus (or at least his body) is even more explosive and will follow soon. The ascension of Mary and Jesus was added to the narrative hundreds of years after the events. Up until then people had been digging all around Jerusalem for the graves of Jesus and his mother Mary and the Church needed an explanation for what had happened to the mortal remains.
Through meticulous research Wilson and Blackett have tracked down these burial sites and these will be revealed in future posts.