St David's Day: Welsh expats celebrate around the world


1 March is St David's Day and Welsh expatriates around the world are celebrating their patron saint. We asked Welshmen and women in the five continents and Antarctica what they would be doing to remember their roots.

Aled Williams, 33, from Graigwen, Pontypridd, now a designer at Apple at HQ in Cupertino, California, US

The Californians don't see fit to celebrate St David's Day as a holiday. I put it down to too much sunshine and a general lack of male voice choirs.

image captionAled and Rosie Williams: 'It's important to retain our Welsh identity'

We still attempt to celebrate the day however. Last Dydd Dewi Sant my wife Rosie, a Llanelli girl, made a mean batch of Welsh cakes which were a big hit at work. My director Simon is from Bridgend, he rounded up a bunch of daffs and some Welsh flags, and dressed the office accordingly. This year we might go the whole hog - sprinkle coal dust on the floor, greet everyone with a 'shw mae', and teach everyone the correct meaning of the word 'tidy'.

I'll be wearing my Pontypridd RFC kit from dawn to dusk: it's surprising how many people have never heard of them seeing as they are the greatest sporting team in the history of the earth.

There's a general lack of knowledge as to what Wales really is - everyone thinks of 'England' as a catch-all area that encompasses all of Wales, most of Scotland, and some of Ireland. So getting a bit of Welsh awareness circulating always helps. Another colleague, Jamie, is from near Rhyl, so we'll have some 'gog' [northern] representation too.

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones recently stopped by for a lunch visit during his trade mission to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It's great to see such progressive measures from our top AM, and also refreshing to know that he shared my concerns about the slow ball from the ruck in this year's Six Nations.

It feels important for us to retain and celebrate our Welsh identity, the hiraeth feels just as strong on St David's Day as it does on other such important days; when Ponty are playing or when mam is making corned beef pie, for example. I'll wear my daff this Friday, and will treat the studio to some Cwm Rhondda, some Men of Harlech, and maybe some YouTube clips of Derek the Weather!

Kath Leavy, 26, originally from Brecon, recently moved to Neath, now in Antarctica

image captionKath Leavy will be saying goodbye to Antarctica and heading back to Wales on St David's Day

Spending St David's Day in Antarctica is a real privilege. There won't be any leeks or daffodils because the only things which grow on this continent are mosses and lichens.

I'm working at a British base called Port Lockroy, run by the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust which is a Welsh-based charity with its headquarters in Monmouthshire. The base was built in the 1950s and we now run it as a living museum. Several Welshmen worked at the base during the course of its operation.

Wales has a really strong connection with Antarctica dating back to Captain Scott and the Terra Nova which departed from Cardiff. Edgar Evans, one of the five men who died with Scott on his expedition to the South Pole, was from Swansea.

This season we were joined by two Welshmen - Tudor Morgan and Michael Powell - who were carrying out structural work at a nearby base. Tudor is from Penarth and Michael is from Crickhowell near Powys.

On St David's Day I'll be saying goodbye to Port Lockroy and all the penguin chicks that have hatched and will be heading northwards on a ship for the return journey home, looking forward to seeing my friends and family in Neath.

Sharon Flint, 34, from Port Talbot, now in Lesotho, Southern Africa

image captionSharon Flint is on a six month voluntary teacher programme in Lesotho

I'm a teacher and mentor on the Lesotho Teacher Placement Programme, which is a six-month voluntary programme with the charity Dolen Cymru.

I've been here for nearly two months already and am getting ready to celebrate St David's Day with my students and colleagues.

I'm living in a small border town called Qacha's Nek in South East Lesotho, with five other Welsh teachers from across north and south Wales.

We're all teaching in different schools and loving every minute of our experiences so far.

Some of our teachers have already visited Wales as part of Dolen Cymru's School Linking programme and I know many more are now very keen to take part in the link.

This St David's Day all our schools are getting together for a traditional dance competition so it is a perfect opportunity for us to wave our Welsh flags and teach them some Welsh songs, dancing and maybe even a bit of tag rugby.

Emma Owen, 27, from Pontypridd, now in Beijing, China

image captionEmma Owen( l) pictured with her Year 1 class at a school in Beijing celebrating St David's Day in style

After learning Welsh as an adult I first became a teacher in a Welsh medium primary school in Llantrisant before deciding I wanted to see more of the world and applying for overseas teaching jobs.

I moved to Beijing in August 2011 to work as a Year 1 teacher. This is my second year here and I finish in June as I am emigrating to Australia.

The children are taught English and Chinese and I work with a Chinese co-teacher teaching in a bilingual environment.

The children are aged five to six and come from Korea, America, Germany, Scotland, Malaysia, Taiwan, Wales, Australia and Hong Kong. They are absolutely fascinated by Wales and constantly ask questions about it. Each morning we sing Welsh songs together and they always ask how to say things in Welsh.

We will will celebrate St David's Day by dressing up in red clothing and making Welsh flags, completing Welsh art and crafts activities and, of course, singing our Welsh medley and doing the traditional folk dancing to Jac-Y-Do. We will also learn about the story of St David and why he is important to the Welsh. Basically we will just be having lots of fun and using any opportunity at all to have a good old dance and sing song.

The biggest thing I miss about Wales is hearing the language and being in a Welsh-speaking environment. I really miss how friendly the Welsh people are and how you can always be greeted with a hello. I also miss driving through the countryside as everything is so hectic and busy here all the time - it really is a millions miles away from the green green grass of home

Sara Hinds, from Penarth, now in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

image captionSara Hinds and friend Amanda Bartlett watching last year's Australia-Wales match

I work as a media officer and web content supervisor at Coffs Harbour City Council - a bit different from my old job back in Wales.

Me and my partner, Richard Lehnert from Bridgend, moved to Australia in 2003 following in the footsteps of my sister and parents.

We've been having a rather extreme version of Welsh weather lately so I hadn't given Dydd Dewi Sant much thought so far. But it is on Friday which has to be an excuse for something. Perhaps another viewing of Gavin and Stacey? Or Sherlock, Torchwood, Doctor Who or even maybe Casualty?

In the past I've arranged to fly the Ddraig Goch outside the council building, played Stereophonics in the foyer -startling several elderly ratepayers - and forced reluctant colleagues to eat Welsh cakes (I've found it's best not to mention they're mainly made of lard!). A surprising number of expat residents or their recent descendants turned up for this unlikely civic event as I recall.

Ceri Davies, from Penarth, now in Paris

image captionCeri Davies (centre in the navy blue polo shirt) with other members of the Paris Welsh Society, who are meeting to celebrate St David's Day on Saturday

I am president of the Paris Welsh Society which has around 60 members.

I've lived in Paris for six-and-a-half years, I'm married and I work as an English teacher in the public and private sector, teaching adults.

It's not practical to hold our celebration on Friday, so we're holding it on Saturday night. About 45 members are due to attend.

We're quite traditional when it comes to St David's Day. We're having a meal at a Paris restaurant, and we always invite someone from Wales to perform and this year it's the Welsh folk singer Gwyneth Glyn.

In the past we've had harpists and singers come over. Before I joined the society Dafydd Iwan and the harpist Elinor Bennett performed.

I'm set to give a speech at the St David's Day meal and I'll thank Gwyneth for coming over from Wales.

Our membership is a real mix. We have people who are working here on short contracts, others who have retired to France and people who have worked here for a number of years.

Saying that, we have relatively young members, many are aged between 30 and 40, and some of us get together to watch Wales rugby and football matches. We usually arrange six or seven official events a year.

Next week we're going to a Scottish pub in Paris to cheer on Wales against Scotland in the Six Nations.