St. David's Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Cymru am byth" (Wales for ever)
The oldest recorded use of the dragon to symbolise Wales is in the Historia Brittonum, written around AD 829, but it is popularly supposed to have been a battle standard of King Arthur and other ancient Celtic leaders. One of the 12th century origin stories of this symbol comes from the Middle Welsh prose story of Welsh hero Lludd and his brother Llefelys. Though Lludd's reign starts off auspiciously, before long three plagues disrupt the peace. The first plague are the Coraniaid (a race of mythological beings) who come to Britain and cannot be forced out because their hearing is so good that they can hear anything the wind touches. The second plague is a horrid scream that comes every May Day and causes all pregnant women in Britain to miscarry. The third plague involves disappearing provisions: no matter how much Lludd may put in his stores, it will have vanished over the course of the night. With the aid of a brass horn that prevents the Coraniaid from hearing their conversation, Llefelys offers solutions to each plague. The Coraniaid, he reveals, can be killed by a mixture made from a certain insect. This mixture is harmless to Britons, so Lludd must convene a meeting of both groups and throw the mixture over everyone, thereby destroying the invaders. The second plague is caused by a red dragon that is embroiled in combat with a foreign white dragon. Lludd must set a trap for them at the exact centre of the island called Oxford, put them to sleep with mead, and then bury them underground in a stone chest. The third plague is caused by a "mighty magician", who casts a spell to make the whole court fall asleep while he raids their stores. Lludd must confront him, keeping himself awake with a vat of cold water.
In later tales convolved with Arthurian legend, the dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy (who is later, in some tellings, to become Merlin) who is supposed to be the wisest wizard ever to live. On hearing that he is to be put to death to end the demolition of the walls, the boy is dismissive of the advice, and tells the king about the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon! 🐉 🏴
Ddraig Goch (Red Dragon)
March 1 is Saint David's Day, the patron saint of Wales.
The flag of Wales (Welsh: Baner Cymru or Y Ddraig Goch, meaning "The Red Dragon") consists of a red dragon passant on a green and white field.
The flag incorporates the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of green and white.
The oldest known use of the dragon to represent Wales is from the Historia Brittonum, written around 830, which describes a struggle between two serpents deep underground, which prevents King Vortigern from building a stronghold. This story was later adapted into a prophecy made by the wizard Myrddin (or Merlin) of a long fight between a red dragon and a white dragon.
Besides resident dragons, Wales' wildlife is typical of Britain but with some distinctions. Because of its long coastline, Wales hosts a variety of seabirds including gannets, Manx shearwater, puffins, kittiwakes, shags and razorbills. Birds of prey include the merlin, hen harrier and the red kite, a national symbol of Welsh wildlife. Today, mammals include shrews, voles, badgers, otters, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and fifteen species of bat!
Two species of small rodent, the yellow-necked mouse and the dormouse, are of special Welsh note being found at the historically undisturbed border area.
Click the 15th century depiction of this battle of the white and red dragon for more on this draconian legend.
And for a video of the Scottish Flowers dancing "Y Ddraig Goch" at the 14th Highland Gathering in Peine, click the video below.