EMBLEMS OF WALES(1) Facebook: history of Wales
The leek and the daffodil
According to legend, St David ordered Welsh soldiers to wear leeks in their helmets in battle that took place in a ...field full of leeks against the Saxons to avoided striking their own countrymen and it helped to secure a great victory. What is known is that in the 14th century, possibly at the Battle of Crecy, Welsh archers used green and white uniforms to identify themselves and in the 16th century there is a reference to the leek in the account book of Princess Mary Tudor. Shakespeare then refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an "ancient tradition" and whose character Henry V tells Fluellen that he is wearing a leek "for I am Welsh, you know, good countryman."
Throughout the years, leeks have been associated with the practice of medicine. The famous Myfddfai Physicians of Carmarthenshire used the vegetable to cure a variety of illnesses. It was highly regarded as a cure for the common cold, a protection against wounds in battle or being struck by lightning, a means of foretelling the future, of keeping away evil spirits and a tasty, healthy ingredient in cawl, the traditional Welsh broth. If placed under a pillow, leeks could help young maidens see an apparition of their future husbands as well as assist in alleviating the pains of childbirth.
The leek is worn in the caps of today's Welsh soldiers every year on St. David's Day. On the same day, in the prestigious Welsh Guards Regiment, a large raw leek has to be eaten by the youngest recruit to the cheers of his comrades. The green and white plume worn in the "Bearskin" hats of the Guards also identifies them as belonging to the Welsh Regiment.
The leek is often substituted with the daffodil, probably as a result of the similarity of their names in Welsh, as the Welsh for leek is Cenhinen, while the Welsh for daffodil is Cenhinen Bedr. Over the years it has become adopted as a second emblem of Wales.