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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 06:52 GMT
Three St David's days? Thank God
Daffodils
The daffodil could make a triple appearance on lapels this year
Wales has the perfect excuse for a triple celebration of St David's Day this year.

The traditional festivities - which this year include the opening of the Welsh assembly's new 67m building - will be on 1 March as usual.

But a clash with a major Christian festival means the Church in Wales has moved its celebrations to 2 March.

And the Catholic solution to the problem, a clash with Ash Wednesday, is to move St David's Day to 28 February.

It is only the sixth time since 1876 that Ash Wednesday - the start of Lent in the Christian calendar - has fallen on the same date as St David's Day. The last time it happened was in 1995.

Let me assure you that in the Church in Wales pocket book, 1 March is both St David's Day and Ash Wednesday. We're certainly not neglecting the fact it's on 1 March
Canon Robert Hughes

Ash Wednesday is linked to the date of Easter, which changes every year.

The Reverend Canon Roger Hughes, from the diocese of St David, said the Church in Wales agreed "absolutely" with secular celebrations being held on 1 March.

Canon Hughes told the BBC News website: "St David's Day is still on 1 March - the Church in Wales has just moved it to give appropriate space within the liturgy to celebrate it.

"Let me assure you that in the Church in Wales pocket book, 1 March is both St David's Day and Ash Wednesday. We're certainly not neglecting the fact it's on 1 March."

Canon Hughes said he was unaware that the Church in Wales and the Catholic church had picked different alternative dates for the feast.

A spokesman for the Catholic church said it had chosen 28 February - rather than 2 March - because it was outside Lent and therefore a more "appropriate" day for celebrating.

National festival

Lent is traditionally a time for fasting and abstinence in the Christian church.

Canon Robert Reardon, from the Catholic archdiocese of Cardiff, said Ash Wednesday took precedence over saints' days in the church because it was a "feast of the Lord".

"It's been moved to the day before so it can be more of a celebration, as it's outside of Lent," he said.

"[The assembly] would argue they are a secular institution - and that's an appropriate day for them. In fact, our own archbishop will be present at the ceremony."

St David's Day has been a national festival in Wales since the 18th Century.

The saint is said to have come from an aristocratic family in west Wales and was at the heart of the Welsh church in the 6th century.

A spokeswoman for the office of the assembly's presiding officer said: "I'm sure that most people in Wales are completely unaware that St David's Day has been moved.

"The date's been in the diary for a very long time."


SEE ALSO:
Baby is refused St David's photo
04 Mar 05 |  South West Wales


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