Some of my dad’s family are from Wales and I spent more holidays in and around Aberystwyth, Dolgellau and Rhayader than I can remember, so although I’m not Welsh per se, I’m definitely claiming Welsh adjacency. (True story: we had a caravan near Abergavenny and I learned to say ‘bara brith’ before I learned the word ‘radiator’.) Which is a not-at-all thin excuse to segue into talking about St David’s Day.
Held on 1 March every year, St David’s Day has been a much-celebrated national festival across Wales for centuries. The Cardiff parade is attended by the Queen (or the Prince of Wales) and the National Assembly for Wales has long lobbied for the day to be a bank holiday. Every 1 March Welsh children go to school wearing a daffodil (or a leek!) pinned to their jumpers and often wear either national rugby shirts or traditional Welsh costume. With parades in cities and towns and eisteddfodau (recitals and concerts) all across the country, it’s an occasion filled with joy, laughter and character as well as the more serious-minded celebration of culture and national identity.
So as it’s St David’s Day, let’s join in and celebrate some of our Welsh sellers, Welsh products and items made using Welsh materials.
Know any Welsh? No? Well, you will by the end of this section. Whether you’re a Welsh speaker who’s keen to have products in your own language at home, or you just love the words, there are plenty of gorgeous Welsh language products on our site.
Let’s start with the good stuff: cake (surprise, surprise). Or cacen, seeing as we’re speaking Welsh today.
Because if you’re going to have a slice of cacen, you’ll need a good paned too. That’s not just a Welsh thing – it’s basic common sense.
Once you’ve had your tea and cake, you’re likely to find that inspiration strikes (companies are run on less). How about a llyfr nodiadau to record all those amazing thoughts?
Made in Wales
Welsh materials are prized worldwide – from lamb (and lambswool) and ceramics to slate and oak, they’re a byword for craftsmanship and quality. There’s even Welsh gold, mined in tiny quantities since Roman times… although it’s so rare, even we don’t currently feature any products made from it (if you’re out there and you make beautiful items from Welsh gold, be sure to get in touch).
Ceramics have been created in Wales for hundreds of years. This lovely heart is made in North Wales, and would also make a lovely Mother’s Day gift.
If you’re planning to make a traditional Welsh breakfast on Friday morning, you’re going to need eggs. Not just fried or poached – the meal includes laverbread, which is seaweed pureed with egg, coated in oats and fried (much nicer than it sounds, trust me – Richard Burton once described laverbread as “Welshman’s caviar”).
From serving with freshly baked Welsh cakes to glazing the top of your freshly baked bara brith, no Welsh pantry is complete without a jar of local mêl.
If you’re not Welsh and you can’t claim even a distant connection, but you still want to join in, you could do a lot worse than with one of our other Welsh-influenced items.
The dragon is perhaps the most recognisable symbol of Wales. Add some fearsome style to shirt sleeves with these cufflinks.
School children wear real daffodils on their jumpers on St David’s Day, but if you don’t have any to hand (no, you can’t use a miniature narcissus instead) this cheerful brooch will do the trick.
This town’s name is so long, you might need to break for tea halfway through saying it. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing – no-one can resist an extra paned.
A slice of bara brith
Right, so now we know a few Welsh words and you’ve seen some products that’ll help you get in the spirit of St David’s Day. Quite a lot for one post, don’t you think? Time for cake. Bara brith (it means ‘speckled bread’ in Welsh) is a traditional tea time treat, historically made once a week and enjoyed warm, spread with delicious salted Welsh butter.
What you’ll need
- 450g/1lb self-raising flour
- 175g/6oz brown sugar
- 1 medium sized free-range egg
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tbsp honey
- 300ml/½pt cold tea (without milk in)
- 450g/1lb dried mixed fruit
- A bit more honey for glazing.
What you do
- Pour the tea over the dried fruit in a large bowl, cover and leave to soak overnight
- The next day, mix the sugar, egg, orange juice, zest and honey, and add to the fruit
- Sift in the flour and spice, and stir well
- Pour the mixture into a 1.2l/2 pint lined loaf tin
- Bake in a preheated oven at 160°C (325°F) for about 1¾ hours
- Remove from the oven and baste with honey whilst still warm. Let it cool before storing in an airtight cake tin.
Bara brith is one of those recipes that can be tweaked according to baker’s prerogative, so if you want to substitute a quarter of the tea with whisky, marsala or port, or the honey with marmalade or jam, feel free. Different types of tea will subtly affect the flavour, too – a malty Assam will give a different taste to Earl Grey, for example.
We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering a bit more about our Welsh sellers and products. So finally, with our slice of bara brith in hand, we’d like to wish all of our Welsh customers and sellers a happy St David’s Day.