Christmas festivities are different in every culture. Several traditions are the same in every culture but unique in their rights like carol singing and midnight church services. The Welsh, however, is known for some unique traditions that you wish the rest of the world followed as well. They are a mixture of both weird and heart-warming. These traditions are not practised anymore but some of them are, and they are worth a look into. Perhaps, you might want to include some of these traditions in your families and keep them alive for future generations to enjoy.
A horse’s skull is decorated during the 19th century in Wales. Strange, but the decorated head is an art form that has been adopted in newer creative forms. The ritual is to put sackcloth on the horse’s head which is mounted on a pole. Groups of men then carry the hobby horse to different homes, and a Welsh verse is sung to ask the residents if they would permit them to enter. At first, the residents do not allow them entry and respond in the song that they would not, and the exchange continues. In the end, when they do gain access, everyone gets together and enjoys food and drink. Society’s Christian clergy had opposed to the following of this ritual, and the Mari Lwyd had stopped being a form of cheer after the late 19th century. However, painters and writers include excerpts of the Mari Lwyd in their art to keep the tradition alive in some form. Some parts of Wales still carry on the culture on the 17th of January.
Carols at Twilight
While the whole world celebrates midnight services for people to bring in Christmas day, the Welsh did it differently. They held their mass from 3 AM to 6 AM on Christmas day, which meant that everyone would have to wake up early for the ceremony. Some people were able to make it to church on time, while others preferred to celebrate since the night before. Therefore, on Christmas Eve, several ensembles of choirs perform and stay up until 3 AM for the mass. The tradition is a Plygain one and is still carried out in different parts of Wales. The singing at the Twilight Carols ritual is much revered and a chance for singers to showcase their talent as well.
On the 26th of December, the Welsh men could go hunting for Wren; The Wren is a tiny bird is then put into a cage and taken from one home to another for residents to look at. The day is also called St.Stephens day. Young and old dress up in straw suits and colorful clothes and celebrate the wren. Musicians and artists perform on the streets while the wren is carried around. In modern times, the Wren is a fake bird which is decorated and mounted on a pole. People are encouraged to trick their friends by concealing their identities behind their costumes and is a familiar ritual with the Welsh. Money that is collected from the event is usually donated to charities and schools.
Perhaps a tradition best left in the past, this tradition is by far a strange one. More than a celebration, the ritual is a punishment of sorts. On the day after Christmas, everyone is usually still stuck in holiday cheer and consumed with wine and food. However, as a means to get people out of their beds, the ritual involves beating the last person who gets out of bed with prickly holly sprigs. The tradition was not directed at the members of the household who woke late, but female servants too. Not a culture that can be carried out in today’s post-modern era, nevertheless, a tradition that makes the Welsh unique.