Saturday, 6 December 2014

New Year - forget First Footing - go visit the Newly Weds

I'm jumping forward a few weeks to the end of the year to share some more unusual New Year's Eve traditions.

The Mari Lwyd, a Welsh Mumming tradition
It all started when asking my husband what he knew about Mari Lwyd as part of my Christmas tradition blog series. The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare or "Gray Mary" in English) is a Welsh mid-winter mumming tradition, often used to celebrate the New Year but it traditionally took place anytime between Christmas and late January.

Small groups of well wishers would be accompanied by a person disguised as a horse, and would go from house to house and sing a traditional song challenge at each door, hoping to be invited in for food and drink.  Mari Lwyd could look rather gruesome as it included a real horse skeleton - although the one shown in this picture from the Material Cultures website has been decorated with pretty rosettes. 

My husband told me about another Welsh tradition he had once taken part in when staying with a friend of his in West Wales. It was the custom locally to visit the houses of anyone you knew who had been married during the year. But just like First Footing, you were not allowed to enter the house until the New Year. After spending a very festive evening in the traditional hostelries (ok the local pubs), the newly weds rushed off home just before midnight, so that they would be ready to welcome friends and family, and the odd visiting stranger or two.  Of course, depending on how may people you knew and how many weddings there had been that year, you could end up having a very long night....

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Wales.