British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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March i.]                      st. dayid's day.                                111
in their power. On such an occasion each individual carried with him his portion of leeks to be used in making the pottage for the company. Some also are of opinion that the practice took its rise in consequence of a victory obtained by Cadwallo over the Saxons on the 1st of March, 640, when . the Welsh, to distinguish themselves, wore leeks in their hats. Shakespeare introduces the custom into his play of Henry V., act iv. sc. 7. Fluellin addressing the monarch says :
" Your grandfather of famous memory, an't please your majesty, and your great uncle Edward the plack prince of Wales, as I have read in the chronicles, fought a most prave pattle here in France.
" K. Hen. They did, Fluellin.
"Flu. Your majesty says very true : if your majesty is remembered of it, the Welshmen did goot service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty knows, to this hour is an honour­able padge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day."
This allusion by Fluellin to the Welsh having worn the leek in a battle under the Black Prince, is not, as some writers suppose, wholly decisive of its having originated in the fields of Cressy or Poictiers, but shows that when Shakespeare wrote Welshmen wore leeks. In the same play the well-remembered Fluellin's enforcement of Pistol to eat the leek he had ridiculed, further establishes the wearing as a usage.—Every Day Book, vol. i. p. 318
A contributor to a periodical work, entitled Gazette of Fashion (March 9th, 1822), rejects the notion that wearing leeks on St. David's Day originated at the battle between the Saxons and the Welsh in the sixth century ; and considers it more probable that leeks were a Druidic symbol employed in honour of the Br1sth Ceudven, or Ceres. In which hypo­thesis he thinks there is nothing strained in presuming that the Druids were a branch of the Phoenician priesthood. Both were addicted to oak worship ; and during the funereal rites of Adonis at Byblos, leeks and onions were exhibited in " pots with other vegetables, and called the gardens of that deity."
In the fifteenth century, the celebration of St. David's Day was honoured with the patronage of royalty; and numerous
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