Could we have a thread on Welsh Customs?

Rings a bell. I think someone told me it was “la Befana”, and they traditionally say something like
“Viva, Viva, la Befana” (not sure about spelling though).

On a related thread. Does anyone know of anywhere Mari Lwyd might be seen soon?

Well, in the first public appearance of Siôn Corn (in Glyn Davies’ 'Cerddi Huw Puw"), he is described as a “rather benevolent spook”) himself! His basis seems to be a possibly family tradition concerning a pleasant bogeyman living up their family chimney, whose main interest seemed to be getting children to go to bed early, til he was introduced to a wider public.

Yes!! I mis-remembered! Checking “Stori Santa”, I found it is ‘Befana’!
To @margaretnock
No one has been taking the Mari Llwyd round ‘my’ part of Gower for years. I don’t know of it being done, except for demonstrations for TV!!!

I saw the Mari Lwyd in the Mochyn Du in Cardiff one year when I was fairly newly arrived in Wales. It was great with lots of singing and the Mari Lwyd eventually coming in and creating quite an atmosphere moving from table to table. I’d love to see it again!

Well, I can’t go to Chepstow in January, but I see from the newsletter that the Mari Lwyd is!!

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I doubt I can get there either, but it looks like heaps of fun!

Sun Jan 10th 10.30am Gellionnen Chapel, above Pontardawe A visit from Parti Mari Lwyd (Ystradgynlais) celebrating the Old New Year. All welcome.

An excellent website link on the Mari Lwyd which may be of interest is at: - based around the Llangynwyd Mari Lwyd, which is one of the few horses, possibly the only one, which kept going when all others had expired, i.e. before the modern ‘revival’. In addition to the main entry, go to: ‘Archive - Drama’, which gives further info about the Llantrisant & Llangynwyd Mari Lwyds, as well as examples of what they’re calling old ‘Animal Head’ customs from the Gower - which answers Dee’s query - I’ve not looked at these in any detail but I believe they come from a different stable to the Mari Lwyd.

If anyone is interested, I can post an essay I’ve done on the old Welsh Calan Mai, or May Day, for my distance-learning MA in Celtic Studies based at Lampeter. It’s inspired me to choose as my dissertation topic ‘Harvest Customs in Wales’ (arferion y cynhaeaf), which I’m currently in the middle of - the topic has not been covered in any great detail before.


I would love to read your essay, if you would care to post it:)

Well I’ve tried posting the essay after first converting it to PDF, but it tells me that new users cannot post items - even though I’ve subscribed to SSIW for 3 years or so now, but admittedly it’s some while since I last came on the forum! Sorry.

Oh, that is so sad( You don’t have it anywhere else online? Maybe, if you do, you could share a link to it?
You see, I’m very interested in folklore and customs of the UK, so both your essay and your dissertation are incredibly interesting to me. I’m now reading Folklore of West and Mid Wales by John Ceredig Davies, a very good book (for people interested in the subject of this thread).

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No I’m afraid I’ve not yet got it anywhere else online - in the future maybe, once I’ve finished the dissertation, but that’s some way ahead. In the meantime, yes, Jonathan Ceredig Davies is a very good, reliable source. Another more recent one is ‘Welsh Folk Customs’ by Trefor Owen: no longer in print I think but there are some reasonably priced copies for sale on Amazon. Another good one is T Gwynn Jones: ‘Welsh Folklore and Folk-Custom’.

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Oh, then I suppose I will have to wait until you finish your dissertation (or until the forum decides that you’re not a new user anymore!)
Thank you so very much! I only have Wirt Sykes, John Rhys and John Ceredig Davis. And (I hope I don’t abuse of your kindness) - is there a good source on superstitions and customs of (specifically) North Wales?

I did not find a way this forum will take attachments when i wanted to send someone a document.

Now, sometimes i have ideas and this is just an idea.
What the sender could do is copy the text from which ever source they have it written in, and paste the text into a private message to @stella. (i will try sending you a small piece in a minute and withdraw the post if it does not work).

May loose some formatting, but would retain the text.

Edit: seems to have sent ok.

Cheers J.P.

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The key title that comes to mind for North Wales is another old (1896) volume by Elias Owen - ‘Welsh Folklore: Folktales & Legends of North Wales’ - it’s another like Ceredig Davies that’s been reprinted by Llanerch Press, and probably easiest to buy direct via publisher. It’s quite a substantial volume, c.350 pages, but just to point out that it does mainly concentrate on what its subtitle says, so the ‘Tylwyth Teg’ or fairy folk predominate, along with stories of spirits, ghosts & witches, charms, omens, ‘spiritualism’, birds & beasts; nothing for instance on folk customs. I suppose there may be other more modern volumes on N. Wales but can’t bring any to mind at present, the material tends to be scattered in Welsh folklore volumes generally, though there are no doubt very local titles attached to specific areas.

Anyway, you’ve done well already to acquire Wirt Sikes’ old volume on British Goblins, along with ‘the master’ Sir John Rhys. By the way, this is no trouble at all, I’m only too glad to find others interested in the topic.

Thank you to ramblingjohn for his suggestion but a) my computer skills are I’m afraid very basic (a bit like my Welsh) and b) that would be an awful lot of text to paste in a private message - c.6,000 words - even if I knew how to do it! At least I’m reassured that it wasn’t just me finding it difficult to post an attachment.

Those superstitions held of old
Now leave us moderns, frankly, cold.
A broken mirror it appears,
Would herald seven unlucky years.
Salt spilled would surely curse the holder,
If not cast over his left shoulder.
Under a ladder never go
For that would lead to certain woe.
Nails cut on Sunday brought disaster,
For one week Nick would be your master.
Thirteen was bad, but three of course,
Brought luck, as black cat or white horse.
Old wives tales we no longer need,
We of the scientific breed.
But just in case an old truth lingers,
I’ll just touch wood and cross my figers!
Victor Edwards [Sorry it’s not in Welsh]

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Excellent, thank you very much! I actually managed to find it on the website, which publishes books that are out of copyright. So if anyone’s interested you can find the full digital copy of the book in pdf on this website.
I will wait for your essay, whenever it’s published:) British folktales and customs are my main area of interest and research, though I’m very interested in everyday life in the past too, of course.

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Well, the one from Rhossili/Port Eynon/Horton was called Mari Lwyd, locally!!
Re: your thesis: By the 1970s, all I can report was a Harvest Supper in the Village Hall every year, with good cooks having a table each to cater for, entertainment provided by those of us who could string a few lines together or sing or both and Harvest Festival services in both Church in Wales and Methodist Churches.

To @victoredwards
Thank you!! My mother believed every one of those, including crossing her fingers!!!

How about you email the PDF to me dee [AT] and I’ll post it for you. I bet there are quite a few people that would love to read it.