as a welsh person i want you all to accept that W is a vowel because honestly it makes pronouncing acronyms so much easier. wlw becomes ‘ooloo’, wjec becomes ‘oojeck’, love yourselves and stop giving us shit when we tell you welsh has 7 vowels. english actually has 15 vowel sounds but because y’all only use 5 letters you have to rely on a spelling system devised by satan
No seriously, learn how to sing songs in your language. It doesn’t even matter if you comprehend the lyrics, the main goal is picking up the phonetics! The bardic tradition is a huge part of Celtic identities, especially for the Gaels of Scotland, Ireland, and Nova Scotia through the ceilidh. There’s also a pretty strong tradition in Wales through Eisteddfod. So by learning your language through song you’re learning pronunciation and flow whilst maintaining an ancient tradition!
Okay, I already posted this picture last night, but gave it without any context, so here - as a diversion from stuff I don’t feel like doing - is the context.
This is the Mari Lwyd, as enacted last night at St Fagans Folk Museum in Cardiff as part of their Christmas Nights festivities - an absolutely glorious night out, btw, 10/10 recommend, I feel wonderfully festive now!
Mari Lwyd is, at its heart, a mumming performance - or a wassailing tradition, if you prefer. The Mari Lwyd itself is pretty much exactly what it looks like: a skeleton horse head mounted on a stick, with a smaller stick to work the jaw, all wrapped up in a sheet and decorated with streamers. There is a guy inside the costume, having tremendous fun, and a bunch of other guys dressed up as stock characters, like Punch & Judy, and they would go from house to house basically singing for their supper. The householders would be expected to deny them entry, also through the medium of song, and they would effectively have a sing-off, singing back and fore at each other, until one side or the other gave in. I really wish I’d tried to get a video of the singing, it was fabulous!
Nothing says Christmas quite like a skeleton horse head on a stick.
The performers also danced a few traditional folk dances, and enacted another old tradition called Hunting the Wren - on the day after Christmas, local boys would go hunting for a wren, and if they found one, would put it in a coffin and carry it from door to door like a funeral cortege, giving a feather each to the householders and dripping a bit of the wren’s blood into the soil outside each house for good luck (no actual wrens were harmed during this performance, which was symbolic only)
All part of the Christmas Nights festivities at St Fagans! There was also a Makers Market, a traditional fair, and a wreath-making demonstration, Siôn Corn (Santa) magically duplicated himself to meet with children at two farmhouses simultaneously, and a beautiful rolling carol service was held at Capel Pen-rhiw
You know, the kind of carol service where a choir of random people who’ve never met before and will never meet again all turn up and sing their hearts out in two different languages.
There was also a Plygain service at St Teilo’s - plygain being a very old Welsh tradition of carolling, very different from the English carol-singing tradition that formed a couple of hundred years later. The plygain singerstraditionally met in the middle of the night and sang these very long, very beautiful hymns for several hours before all going off for breakfast together! This was very much a cut-down performance, but beautiful nonetheless! St Teilo’s is so lovely
All in all, feeling 100% more festive now! Roll on Christmas!
I have somewhat of a fascination with the Welsh language. I spent 3 years out at University in Wales, receiving every letter, bulletin or notice in Welsh first and English second. Many terms and phrases have imbedded themselves in my brain, even though (shamefully) I never learned the language itself.
Here are just a few examples of such terms. Enjoy.
Cwtch is the Welsh word for cuddle, not just any type of cuddle however, a rather special one, blessed with the warmth and generosity of the Welsh, a truly free flowing expression of love and acceptance.
Remember that lovely warm feeling you used to get when a special person put their arms around you, sheltering you from the world and its pressures, at least momentarily. Ahhh… that’s a Cwtch. In that single instant you had nothing to fear not a care nor a concern in the world. All pressures, and problems were removed allowing your spirit to soar upwards free from the day to day troubles of life.
Now this is the best explanation of a cwtch I’ve ever read.