Crepe-paper daffodils, leeks and other 'Home thoughts from abroad'

Who else remembers being dressed in crepe-paper to look like a daffodil or leek? Who else had to ‘stand still’ while a skirt and open-sided tee-shirt of bright green was artfully tied or pinned in place, then a two-tier, two-tone (if you were lucky) yellow ruff was secured around your neck, and finally being told to ‘be careful’ until it was your turn for a walk-on part as you took your place in the corps-de-daffodils for the St. David’s Day tableau? And why did the boys always get to be leeks? I wanted so much to be a leek, so by second year in infant school I was already wondering why girls couldn’t be or do what boys did too. Explains a lot…

Can you still buy colourful crepe-paper? We used it for making costumes and all kinds of things like flowers (which could be quite life-like–not that mine ever were), or Christmas decorations of tubular pieces of crepe paper stretched taut between the picture rails, weaving amazing patterns overhead. That always seemed to involve granddad climbing up a ladder with the cat leaping after him trying to tear the long ribbons of coloured crepe we had painstakingly cut and pasted together. What else can you remember or still have fun for hours making from crepe-paper?

I would love to hear your anecdotes on what it was–or is like growing-up and living in Wales, what enjoyment (and unique situations) you’ve experienced speaking Welsh or trying to, and what others (like me who live abroad or even just a little distance from where you grew up) long for in trying to get a taste for the traditional as well as day-to-day Welsh culture and way of life.

As a newbie here, I realize that many of you have done this already via various posts and threads, and there is a great tool for searching them–thank you. We also have our online eisteddfod which I have been following, but I would love to capture afresh all your wonderful stories, as they occur to you in one place right here–in Welsh or English or a patchwork of both. I love this forum–it’s just great to have somewhere where we can all go to enjoy ‘Home thoughts from abroad’. I gather that Robert Browning (who wrote the poem* I took this topic title from) managed to capture the ordinary and everyday in a way that others could relate to–a real taste of ‘home’.

Diolch yn fawr iawn.


What a great topic, Marilyn!
This might seem a random question, but as a foreigner who has never been to Wales (or to anywhere near) and has a passion for everything that concerns its culture, I find any tiny bit of information vary valuable and interesting. Are there any carols in Welsh that people here might have sung as children or still sing now? I find Gwel yr Adeiladd incredibly beautiful, but I now nothing else.
Are there any winter time traditions and superstitions in Wales that are still alive now, like, for example meeting a certain person on Christmas day and this being a good omen?

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Well now WALES is full of song try Sûo gân an old Welsh carol here’s a link to its translation etc
There are loads of wELSH legends and stories of the Mabinogiin. What’s lovely us Dylan Thomas’ A child’s Chritmas’. Worth a read. Calon lân Myfanwy and host other songs. Prob find them in Utube and don’t further the National Anthem. All these enough to get ‘hiraeth’ going! Let alive all that poetry!!!


Bore da Stella,

‘Tua Bethlem dref’ has to be one of the most beautiful Christmas carols I know–it has a haunting melody that I still sing to myself and any critters scampering about as I head out on Christmas Morning to take the early service. That’s here and now–in Vancouver.

When I was growing up in Cardiff, my dad, brother and I would walk to chapel Christmas morning, sing our hearts out, then walk home in eager anticipation of turkey (more often a large chicken) dinner with all the trimmings which we ate sometime between one and two in the afternoon.

After that, my mam, and just about every other wife on the block would fall asleep (as non-drinkers who once a year tucked into the cooking sherry while they preparied the feast) so to give them some peace and quiet the dads and kids would all go out to walk off the effects of the rich food (or show off their new clothes and stuffed toys or bikes). In our case, we always went to the huge old city cemetery at the end of our street–truly! It was the most amazing place, with a section that had Victorian glass bell-jars containing personal memorabilia on several of the graves. There were ladies’ fans or beautiful hats, boxing gloves, scrim-shaw, poetry books and all kinds of treasures that made you curious to read the loving dedications on the headstones. That was then and there, but I have no idea if they still exist. Maybe someone can tell us.


On iTunes cd 101 carolau a chaneuon nadolig gives some lovely carols and of course they can be ‘sampled’
Yr fav song Marilyn is on Utube. It really is beautiful! Dw i’n Gwrando’r ‘in seren wen’ rwan Hyn! Ardderchog!

Diolch yn fawr iawn Sandra for pointing us to those resources–what a treat to enjoy those carols, especially my all-time favourite.

(Also thank you very much indeed for the technical advice which as you can see has worked–I am back in business on Skype, so looking forward to our chat tomorrow if the timing works out for you.)

Nos da,

There was the Meiri Llwyd (spelling) on Gower, and elsewhere too, I think. At New Year, groups (mainly adult men) would carry a horse’s skull all dressed up and virtually demand entry to houses, where they would do a sort of .mumming’ play involving St. George… I forget the details. They preceded me and I’ve never seen the real thing, only pictures!!! I’m sure google would tell all!
We always carol-sang round the village, dividing into two or three groups to try to cover every house. We collected for Children’s charities (both ‘Church’ and ‘Chapel’). All in English in our part of Gower!
p.s. most of my early childhood was during & just after the War, so not much celebration at Christmas. Chicken came from our back yard!! (Veg from allotmant! I’m not sure how pudding or mince pies were managed!!!)