Cultural Identity and Strange Hats.. Happy St David’s Day!

I miss home. In relocation terms, they call it your ‘home location’, but since 2005, we haven’t lived there, so ‘home’ has become a bit of a moveable feast. But every so often, I feel a huge sense of sadness about the people and the place that I consider my own.

Wales is not a huge country, so its traditions rarely make it to the world stage.  Most people I meet refer to it as being ‘part of England’, and I marvel at how somewhere that is such an integral part of my identity could be so little understood. It makes me understand the importance of cultural identity, and the power it has over our sense of belonging somewhere, being part of a group, something bigger than just us.

Today is St David’s Day. He’s the patron saint of Wales, and to celebrate the day, children in Wales go to school wearing Welsh national costume and a daffodil or a leek. (There is a reason that no Welsh contender has ever won Miss World, and I’m thinking it may have something to do with the regional costume round.) Somewhere in my mother’s photograph album, there is a cracked, curled photograph of me at the age of four wearing the traditional black hat, tartan shawl and white apron. I have one of the Feisty One at the same age, in an identical outfit. We both stand looking vaguely ridiculous, but bursting with pride at being part of something.

Its the sense of permanence that we’ve lost. So today, I’m going to find it again.

It’s St David’s day. I’m decorating with daffodils, and we’re having Welsh cakes. Care to join us?


Welsh Cakes  (makes 15-18 cakes)

  • 225 g /8 oz self –raising flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 110 g /4 oz  butter
  • 75 g /3 oz  sugar
  • 75 g /3 oz currants (or raisins or sultanas if you prefer)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Zest of half a lemon (optional)

Sieve the flour and spice into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor, which speeds things up). Add the sugar, lemon zest and dried fruit. Pour in the beaten egg and stir to make a firm dough. On a floured board, roll or press the dough to 5 mm /1/4 inch thick and cut into circles with a 4-5 cm/2 inch cutter. Cook on a medium hot griddle , turning once until golden brown on both sides but still soft in the middle.

If you don’t own a griddle you can use a heavy based (preferably cast iron) frying pan that has been lightly buttered.


2 thoughts on “Cultural Identity and Strange Hats.. Happy St David’s Day!”

  1. None of the Daffs in the garden were quite out on Thusday so I found the bud with the most yellow poking out. All day I had people side-stepping me in the corridor as they saw my Daff and thought it was a novelty squirty flower! By the end of the day it just looked limp and very sorry for itself.

    I think I will go a bit “Max Boyce” next year and get the biggest leek I can find in Tesco’s 🙂

    Best regards,


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