It is this time of the year - Christmas snd New Year in Wales
In Wales - which is part of the United Kingdom - some special Christmas- and New Year's traditions can be found though many slowly fall into oblivion. The Christmas season ends on the 6. January.
In Wales you can find a coulourful Christmas tree in the sitting room, often decorated with with craft objects from paper in different coulours. An important part of the Christmas decoration at home are mistletoes and hollies as misteltoes preserve from harm while hollies are a symbol for eternal life. As important in Wales are the Christmas Carols - both at home around the Christmas tree as in the churches. Often carol singers walk from house to house and sing their songs. Every year new songs are composed and one of them will be awarded carol of the year.
In some rural regions till today on the Christmas morning before dawn between three and six a.m. and often lasting three hours the Plygain servive will take place which only consists of polyphonic carols sometimes accompanied by the harp. The Plygain singers often stayed awake all night making toffee over the fire, playing games and narrating fairy tales before they process to church. After the service all day through the celebrating, drinking and eating will continue. Later on the day the gifts will be handed out.
In other regions on the morning of the Christmas day the Christmas swimming will take place - often to collect money for charities. In other parts of Wales the swimming will be on New Year's Day. Probably the sea will be rather cold on both days.
An old tradition which was revived recently is the Mari Lwyd which will take place usually between Christmas day and the Twelfth day - a tradition of which the origin is not quite clear but which probably combines Christian legend and celtic mythology. A horse head (not a real one!) is put on a stick and a man wrapped in a white cloth (as the horse's body) carries it around. Mari is often accompanied by a groom and some traditional figures. In front of the houses the group and the horse will sing Welsh songs, tell riddles or rude rimes. When you open your door to Mari it will play tricks on you but you and your family will be lucky in the New Year. Mari and companions usually will be rewarded with food and beer.
On New Year's Day Calennig will be celebrated a- feast to welcome the New Year. It often is a feast for the children who walk from door to door singing and telling rimes. They will be rewarded with sweets, bread and cheese or money. The children carry an apple stuck on three sticks and decorated with raisins, nuts and twigs of bux - which is a lucky symbol as well.
Obviously a lot of the traditions have to do with food and drinking and of course on Christmas Day a special Christmas dinner is served in Wales. It is very similar to the English Christmas dinner - a stuffed turkey with vegetables and as dessert Welshcake or pudding.
Jim Williams, Nick Kenny and Lewy Williams will have been back in Wales in time for the Christmas dinner and I hope it hit the spot. Jonny Clayton probaly will have made it just in time for the New Year and who knows perhaps has taken part in a New Year's swimming. Gerwyn Price stood on the stage of the Alexandra Palace on New Year's Day and threw a nine-darter to welcome the new year. But he lost the battle to defend the title against Michael Smith and will be on his way back to Wales while in the Ally Pally a new World Champion will be crowned.