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Christmas In Wales

Say Merry Christmas in Welish

Nadolig Llawen!

Caroling is particularly popular in Wales where it is called eisteddfodde and is often accompanied by a harp. In some rural areas a villager is chosen to be the Mari llwyd. This person travels around the town draped in white and carrying a horse's skull on a long pole. Anyone given the "bite" by the horse's jaws must pay a fine.


Wren day

On Twelfth Night in 19th century Wales, groups of men would go out ‘Hunting the Wren’. Once captured, the tiny bird would be caged in a wooden box and carried door-to-door for all to see.


The rural parish community of Carew, home to one of Cadw’s most famous monuments, the Carew Cross, could have been a setting for this extraordinary tradition.



From dawn until noon on New Year’s Day, children in early 19th century Wales would go from door to door, singing rhymes, splashing people with water and asking for calennig, which were gifts of small change.


Blaenavon Ironworks’ Stack Square would have been a prime spot for resident children to ask for Calennig – and what’s more, it is quite possible that the spooky Mari Lwyd was carried from door to door at the square too!



The day after Christmas was celebrated in early 19th century Wales with the unpleasant ritual of “holming.” Thankfully now an extinct custom, the last person to get out of bed in the morning would be beaten with prickly holly sprigs. Ouch!


Christmas toffee

Noson Gyflaith (Toffee Evening) was a traditional part of Christmas and New Year festivities in some areas of north Wales during the late 19th century. Families would invite friends to their homes for supper followed by games, making toffee (or taffy), and storytelling.


The resident cooks at Castell Coch’s kitchen may well have produced some go


Wassail bowls

Drinking from the wassail bowl was a lucky New Year tradition in Wales at the turn of the century.


Taken from Anglo-Saxon and Tudor customs, the ornate bowl would be filled with fruit, sugar, spices and topped up with warm beer.


Just imagine the wassail bowl being passed around at Caerphilly Castle’s Great Hall-od old-fashioned taffy during Lord and Lady Bute’s occupancy.




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