In Wales, we have deep-rooted and centuries-old Christmas and festive traditions that are unique to our country. On your previous visits to Penrhos Park during the festive season, you may have heard people wishing you ‘Nadolig Llawen’, which is a Welsh-language term for ‘Merry Christmas’, but behind the language there’s so much more going on than the 13 letters suggest. ‘Nadolig Llawen’ conjures up images and stories of hymns, welcoming and warm wood fires, children’s glee and countryside blanketed in snow. Wales is home to traditions of Christmas that are solely unique to our landscape and which resonate with Welsh people in all corners of the map. So, as you settle into one of our log cabins in West Wales, comfortably away from the cold, remember that the land we’re made from is steeped in lore and history, tradition and tales. At Penrhos Park, the festive season is a special time to us and we endeavour to enable our guests to get the most out of the Christmas period, too, when they visit us. There really is quite no other place like Penrhos during winter, and as the weather gets colder you’ll find us here, nestled amongst the rolling Welsh hills; a haven of warmth and comfort amongst the often harsh yet familiar Welsh winter weather.
It is a heavenly and magical experience to relax and unwind in one of our private hot tubs while the first snowflakes drop down from the shivering clouds. Our on-site restaurant can help warm you up after a brisk evening walk with a hearty meal prepared by our professional chefs. After your meal, why not soak up the atmosphere of the season with a dram of your favourite whisky from our fully-stocked bar?
We offer one of the best golf courses in Ceredigion, and this, during the winter season is a special sight. Glistening with icy dew and providing the visuals of an open, frozen lake, it is perfectly picturesque. The festive season is synonymous with traditions in Wales so, without further ado, let’s dive into two traditions that we think are so unique to Wales, it’s important for our guests to know about them. Of course, there are many more Christmas traditions that you can find, research and take part in throughout Wales – these are just two of our favourites!
At 3am on Christmas morning in the 18th and 19th centuries, Welsh churchgoers would leave their houses by torchlight or candlelight and head to Plygain, a service of Christmas carols sung by individuals, groups and choirs.
Plygain churchgoers had often stayed up all Christmas Eve, or as it was known in some areas, Noson Gyflaith (Toffee Night). Slabs of toffee would be made around the fire as games were played and various stories, fables and tales were told.
These processions are recorded in various history books, with people taking part from Laugharne to Dolgellau, with the illuminations of the torchlight and candlelight playing an important part in the celebrations.
Some churches have revived the tradition today, with services held in St Davids Cathedral and across Wales. However, many are held before Christmas these days, and thankfully not in the middle of the night.
The Hen Galan celebrations
People who live in the Gwaun Valley in North Pembrokeshire have kept the ages-old tradition of celebrating the New Year of the Julian Calendar alive. Celebrations in years gone by used to involve farmers brewing their own beer and locals visiting each other’s houses. The celebrations today still involve a feast on a par with the traditional Christmas dinner, and a trip to the local pub to quench the thirst and raise a glass.
Why not head to Penrhos this Christmas and start making your own traditions? Each tradition has to start somewhere... let us be yours.