Wales boasts its own distinct culture that can be found through language, food, sports and art.
The national symbol of Wales is the daffodil and leek, said to have been advised by Saint David himself during battle as a way of differentiating his troops from their foes! Saint David even advised his soldiers to wear leek-adorned helmets so as to be easily distinguished from enemies during combat!
Folkloric traditions can often be difficult to trace back their beginnings; however, some have persisted through centuries as part of Welsh life. One such tradition is Mari Lwyd; it involves placing a decorated horse skull at the end of a pole decorated with bells, ribbons, and decorations such as bells. A person dressed like a horse then has the responsibility of carrying this skull while singing to gain entry into homes or pubs.
J’ Evans first documented this tradition in 1800 in his book A Tour Through Part of North Wales. While its exact origin remains a mystery, connections have been made to other British customs where poor people used hooded animal characters as entertainment to raise funds.
Today, Mari Lwyd can still be seen throughout Wales as a symbol of good luck, said to bring prosperity for the year ahead. Additionally, she appears at midwinter festivals and lantern parades – showing younger generations why this character remains part of Welsh culture.
From December 13th through 15th, Wales celebrates Hen Galan – or Welsh New Year – a festival known by locals as Hen Galan. This unique holiday features numerous traditions; among these is Mari Lwyd – a bizarre skeleton on a stick that roams streets begging for food and drinks!
The Mari Lwyd is an elegant ghostly creature who is welcomed with cheers and songs into homes, Inns or pubs by those who invite her in. Though foreign visitors might find this tradition strange or scary at first, it plays an integral part of Welsh history and culture and should not be dismissed simply due to initial primal reactions it elicits.
Flowers or candy may come to mind when we think of thoughtful presents for loved ones (even I find gifting myself candies when I win at online poker games on any of the sites described at https://centiment.io); in Wales in the 17th century however, young men would give their sweethearts wooden spoons carved with intricate designs as gifts – these love spoons became treasured decorative pieces to hang on the wall instead of serving their original purpose!
A love spoon was traditionally created as a means to ask for and demonstrate affection toward his intended partner in marriage and show that love, decorated with symbols such as horses (luck), crosses (marriage), bells (marriage), keys (heart), beads (number of children desired) and even dragons for protection. Once accepted by her wall-hung love spoon would remain there as proof.
If the girl declined his offer, he might display the spoon publicly to show that he remained interested. Young men often presented multiple love spoons to women depending on his expectations for how a relationship might evolve; should she accept his proposal, he might add symbols representing their future together onto its handles as further indication of his commitment and love.
Welsh love spoons have become a favorite souvenir from any visit to Wales and are frequently given as Valentine’s Day presents by couples. Additionally, these charming keepsakes make thoughtful and meaningful presents for weddings, engagements, christenings, birthdays and anniversaries alike.
Robert Pinto, proprietor of Cadwyn Ltd – a family-owned business selling Welsh love spoons – has seen their popularity explode over time. Cadwyn Ltd customers include both visitors to Wales who want a slice of home with them as well as expats seeking something cultural and specific from home.
The artisans working for this company specialize in crafting exquisite love spoons made of various woods such as sycamore, oak and fruit woods. Carving intricate patterns and symbols into them to ensure each love spoon is both beautiful and functional; many symbols represent aspects of Welsh culture such as dragons that symbolize protection and strength or hearts that indicate eternal love.
St. David’s Day
St David is widely revered across Wales as patron saint and is honored on 1 March annually. Although he remains mysterious to most, he plays an influential role in Welsh culture. A monk who lived to around 100 before passing away in 589 AD is said to have found eternal rest at Pembroke Cathedral in Pembrokeshire and became patron saint for both Britain and Ireland. A powerful figure, his gospel message of peace and love inspired many Welshpeople he inspired them to live out every day he taught. One famous miracle took place while preaching at Llanddewi Brefi when his preaching ground rose up into an actual hill before finally landing upon him a white dove settled on his shoulder!
One of the most beloved traditions associated with St David’s Day is eating leeks. A symbol of Wales, leeks are in season in early March and enjoyed on this special occasion. Daffodils also often make an appearance since cenhinen sounds similar to “Saint David”.
The Welsh flag, featuring its iconic red dragon emblem, has long been recognized as an icon of Wales and used as a patriotic symbol during celebrations of St. David’s Day. Disneyland Paris even hosts an elaborate festival to commemorate this event on St. David’s Day eve!
People in Wales also wear leeks or daffodil pins on their lapel as a show of respect to Saint David, display the Welsh flag, sing their national anthem with pride and even dress their pets up in traditional Welsh outfits for this celebration day.
St David’s Day remains an unofficial public holiday in Wales; however, its celebrations have gained popularity and support since former Wales secretary Sir Robert Buckland made calls for this day to become a bank holiday in future years.
Dragons have long been part of Welsh culture. Represented on its flag as an image in red, they’ve long been seen as a representation of Wales for thousands of years. Though no concrete proof exists that dragons exist anywhere on the planet, stories about them abound through history – many being depictions as dangerous forces; though others could also be positive influences.
Mabinogion, an early collection of folklore, first mentioned dragons in Wales. Later, Geoffrey of Monmouth associated them with King Arthur and legends surrounding his return. Since then, red dragons have become an emblematic feature of Welsh culture and even featured prominently on their flag in 1959.
Welsh speakers call the dragon “Y Ddraig Goch”, and it has come to symbolize their country and its people. Many believe that awakening the sleeping beast from its sleep will fulfill a prophecy about its safety for Wales – this story parallels other tales about dragons from throughout Europe where awakening them or imprisoning them were common folklore themes.
Tudor Dynasty coat of arms typically featured a dragon due to their descent from Welsh Prince Gwynedd who adopted it as his symbol. Since then, however, Welsh Nationalist Party supporters have used it as a signpost toward independence from England.
The Welsh dragon remains an integral symbol of their country and often appears in music, poetry and art. There are several popular locations where one can view this beloved creature – most notably at Cardiff Castle where there’s an 80ft bronze statue dedicated to it! Or visit Wrexham’s Dragon Centre dedicated to Welsh cuisine, art and heritage!