Time to celebrate Welsh patron saint's day properly
ROB Hillman is Welsh and proud of it! In just over a month's time, he will attach a daffodil to his lapel and wear it for the day.
His two children, Olivia, eight, and Sam, six, will go one step further and wear Welsh costumes to school to mark St David's Day in an ancient cultural tradition which finds its roots in the early middle ages — and which has shown an astonishing capacity to survive and renew itself.
"Yet I still don't think we do enough to really celebrate it," says the 39-year-old bank worker from Mumbles in Swansea.
"You can always tell when it is Beaujolais Day in Swansea by the swarm of people out.
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"It is a red-letter day the city seems to have taken to its heart like no other. But when it comes to Wales's saint's day, the celebrations are far more likely to be left to school assemblies.
"That, to me, seems a bit of a pity."
It might not be wholly appropriate to mark the life of St David — a frugal monk who lived on bread, water and herbs — by knocking back alcohol, but, say some, we could do much more to make March 1 a good reason to head into Swansea centre.
While the Chicago River runs green for St Patrick's Day and there are parades to the Irish saint everywhere from Downpatrick to New York to Moscow to Seoul, St David leaves less of a mark beyond Wales, and says Juliet Luporini, co-owner of Swansea's city's Kardomah cafe and a leading member of Swansea's Business Improvement District, (BID), that is something which should be tackled.
"Do we do enough to mark St David's Day?" she asks.
"Probably not, is the answer. We could always do more.
"I think the thing that is really lacking is a clear vision about what could be done to promote it here and beyond Wales. We have a situation here where there are a lot of fingers in a lot of pies — lots of groups without their hands on purse strings, but those groups need to be rationalised.
"We need to have a clear focus so we can plan well in advance for this event, since it happens every year.
"We need to have a dedicated committee taking charge of it."
Dying the waters of Swansea's Castle Square fountain red on March 1 is a cute move which gives the city centre a lift, but Catherine Garcia,
interim general manager of Swansea's Dragon Hotel, agrees that St David's Day isn't really sold hard enough.
"We have a Welsh menu on St David's Day at the Dragon, with things like cockle and laverbread gratin and Bara Brith bread and butter pudding, and we do see people coming into the city to celebrate.
"But we see more effort going into Beaujolais Day, which I think is a shame.
"The celebrations don't necessarily have to be based around drinking, but it is an important day in Wales and it would be nice to see it taken up outside Wales, like St Patrick's Day is."
Tony Collins from the Welsh Tartan Centre, in Swansea's College Street, sees more and more people hiring their goods to add some extra colour to St David's Day celebrations, but, like Juliet he thinks an organised, official approach is called for to exploit the opportunities at hand.
And he has a raft of ideas to get the ball rolling.
"We need the Welsh Assembly Government to support initiatives as a celebration of Welsh culture, and I would like to see a St David's Day fund set up," he adds.
"More could be done to involve schools, colleges and businesses for a day and evening celebration.
"We could have Welsh bands in the pubs for the weekend and a competition using the city centre stage."
"And why not have a march through the city similar to the ones in Cardiff and Wrexham, and in New York and Cdlhicago on St Patrick's Day?"
And, he says, with a big sponsor on board, it might be possible to get a big act like Tom Jones, the Manic Street Preachers or the Stereophonics to plug in at the Liberty Stadium or at Singleton Park, to give the festivities more sparkle.
"It could be huge — perhaps a weekend of events, opened by Catherine Zeta Jones or Anthony Hopkins. Why not think big?"