Caernarfon Weeping Window : A WWI Tribute

Nov 3, 2016 by

Caernarfon Castle in Wales has recently opened a poignant tribute to the many Welsh soldiers who died in World War I: The Weeping Window.

 

Caernarfon Weeping Window

    Caernarfon Weeping Window poppies display–Image via LonelyPlanet

The Caernarfon Castle exhibit, entitled “Weeping Window”, is made up of more than 6000 red ceramic poppies.

  The poppies were first exhibited at the Tower of London in 2014, as part of the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ memorial.

That display had over 880,000 hand made poppies, which marked every British and colonial death in the 1914-1918 conflict.

 

Artist Paul Cummins assembled the sculpture and said it had taken nearly six days to install. 

Designer Tom Piper said:

“We have got over 5,000 poppies here, representing probably a fraction of the Royal Welch Fusiliers who died in the First World War.”

Caernarfon Weeping Window

Cascading red poppies of the Caernarfon Weeping Window– Image via WalesOnline

Piper also said it was purely chance that the exhibit ended up looking like a red dragon’s claw.  The red dragon, of course, is a renowned national symbol of Wales.

 

Caernarfon Weeping Window

Observers have noted that the Caernarfon Weeping Window display looks like a dragon’s foot Image via Daily Post

Speaking to the Daily Post, Mr Cummins said:

“It wasn’t planned. What happened was on the last day, when they were planting the last ones, it was a bit of a rush, and there archaeological things on the site that meant we were not allowed to spike in certain places.

“You can only go down a few inches in certain places, so we had to go round those places. It’s just fate.”

Here’s a time lapse video of the installation of the Caernarfon Weeping Window:

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Ceramic poppies used in Caernarfon Weeping Window exhibit

        Ceramic poppies used in Caernarfon Weeping Window exhibit Image

The exhibit is free to the public, but tickets are limited (get them online at Caernarfon’s website here) and demand has been high.

Staff at the castle say the Caernarfon Weeping Window drew almost 40,000 visitors in just two weeks.

The stunning exhibit will remain on display until November 20, 2016.

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The St David’s Day Doodles of Google

Mar 1, 2014 by

 

Happy St David’s Day from Google!

For the past few years, the HUGE internet search company has honored Wales and its national holiday on March 1st by decorating their unique doodle of the day, an artistic logo for their homepage search box, with famous Welsh emblems.

The 2014 version features Y Ddraig Goch, the fierce Red Dragon of Wales, politely having tea with a woman wearing the betgwn (bedgown) and iconic Welsh stovepipe hat of rural 19th century Wales.

 

 

 

2013’s doodle features the Red Dragon of Wales breathing fire that magically transforms into daffodils, the national flower of Wales.  He also bears a green and white leek, another iconic Welsh emblem frequently seen on St David’s Day.    Read my recent post on St David’s Day to learn why Wales is one of the few countries to have a patriotic  national vegetable.

 

 

 

The 2012 Google Doodle for Dydd Gŵyl Dewi  again features the Red dragon, this time daintily sniffing daffodils while he reclines against a castle turret.

 

 

 

The Google Doodle for 2011 is the only one of the four to not feature the noble red dragon; instead, the G in the Google name is transformed into a Welsh lady in national costume, complete with black conical hat, shawl, goffered mobcap and daffodil.

 

 

 

To learn more about the history of Google’s Doodles, try their info page here.    Any suggestions for the 2015 St David Day’s Doodle?  Feel free to pass them on to the talented doodlers of  Google–who in turn pass on our rich Welsh heritage to the world.

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Dydd Gwyl Dewi Dedwydd! Happy St David’s Day!

Feb 28, 2014 by

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Dedwydd!  Happy St David’s Day!

March 1st is the feast day of Saint David, otherwise known as Dewi Sant, a Celtic monk and bishop who became the patron saint of Wales.   In Wales, St David’s Day, or Dydd Gŵyl Dewi as it is known in Welsh, is celebrated as a national holiday, and symbols  of Welsh pride are proudly displayed throughout the country.

 

 

David was born in Wales—the only one of the four main UK saints to be born in the country he represents– near the end of the 5th century, possibly in Pembrokeshire.  He was a member of the royal Ceredigion family, the son of Sandde, Prince of Powys, and Non, daughter of a chieftain of Menevia, now the town of St David’s.   He founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosin (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Sir Benfro, at the spot where St David’s Cathedral stands today. In addition to being the patron saint of Wales, David is also the patron saint of doves; in almost all depictions of the saint, you’ll find a dove somewhere in the image.   Legend holds that a white dove alighted on David’s shoulder while he was preaching, thus marking him as blessed by God and forever a protector of the peaceful bird.

 

 

 

 

 

One well-known tradition associated with St David’s day (and one of my favorites) is the wearing of daffodils, the national flower of Wales, and a colorful symbol of the return of Spring.  Daffodils supposedly grew around the walls of St David’s monastery, and the flowers are also known as cenhinen pedr, “Peter’s leeks”.   More about leeks in a moment…

Many Welsh people (Cymry) dress in traditional attire, such as the conical black hat once worn by Welsh farm women or miners’ helmets and lamps representative of Wale’s long history of mining.

 

 

 

 

Another plant worn proudly on St David’s Day is the patriotic national vegetable of Wales, the humble leek.     Leeks are wonderful cooked in soups and stews and breads, but why would you WEAR one? 

Well, the custom allegedly came about because St David ordered his soldiers (who were also probably monks) to wear leeks on their helmets as they went to battle against the pagan Saxon invaders. Or maybe it was King Cadwaladr of Gwyned who ordered the soldiers to strap on the leeks before the battle against the Saxon foes. It’s even possible that adoration of the leek pre-dates St David, stemming instead from ancient druidic practice in Wales, when the medicinal properties of leeks would have been highly valued.  According to Shakespeare, King Henry V wore a leek in honor of his Welsh heritage; soldiers in modern Welsh regiments carry on the tradition by pinning leeks pinned to their uniforms as a symbol of national pride. 

   Whatever the source of the tradition, the leek is firmly rooted in Welsh hearts and attire as their national allium.

 

 

If you don’t want to wear the leek, try cooking it in this recipe for cawl, a traditional Welsh soup served on St David’s Day. I usually add lamb to mine, but it is just as tasty without any meat.

 

 

 

St David has his own flag, a gold cross on a black background, which you’ll likely see flown alongside the national Welsh flag, with Y Ddraig Goch, the red dragon of Wales, emblazoned on a green and white (leek colors) background.

 

 

 

Want to learn the national anthem of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Old Land of Our Fathers) but worried you won’t know the correct pronunciations? This video has the lyrics for you in Welsh, phonetic Welsh and English:

 

 

 

Wishing you a wondeful St David’s Day, beautiful Celtic people–CYMRU AM BYTH!** WALES FOREVER!

 

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**Cymru am Byth is pronounced KUHM-ree ahm BITH

 

Sources and more info about St David’s Day and Wales:

St David’s Day, Wikipedia.org

St David’s Day National Parade, stdavidsday.org

www.walesonline.co.uk

The Leek: National Emblem of Wales, Historic-uk.com  and St David

Saint David, Catholicsaints.org

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