Purim and Saint David of Wales March 1

To us the death of 75,000 plus people, as depicted in the Book of Esther, would become an event to be celebrated, but to the Jewish community of 1,600 years ago it marked a bright spot in a very dark and turbulent time.  Judah and Israel had been invaded by the Babylonians, and the Jewish leaders, scholars, and priests had been forcibly relocated to Babylon.  The Babylonians were in turn conquered by the Persians.  Through all this, the Jews remained captive and the Book of Esther was written not so much as a history but to give hope to a conquered people.

Purim is celebrated by the giving of gifts and holding feasts. The palace intrigue aspect plays and readings are often held with participants in costume (because nothing is as it seems).

Saint David’s Day on the other hand is just what it seems.  David was renowned as a preacher and teacher in 6th Century Wales and was recognized as a saint by Pope Callixtus II in 1120.  Know for establishing monastic communities David made sure the monks followed the vows a piety and poverty.  The monks of David’s order pulled their plows themselves (without the use of draft animals), drank only water, ate only bread with salt and herbs, and spent their evenings in prayer and study.

While not officially recognized as a bank holiday in the United Kingdom, March 1 is an unofficial holiday in much of Wales.  Petitions have been presented to Parliament to make it a national holiday following in the vein of Saint George of England, Saint Patrick of Ireland and Saint Andrew of Scotland.