Christmas in Wales is a special time, and it becomes even more wonderful when you spend this magical time of the year with your loved ones, family and friends in a place that means a lot to you. A place like Penrhos Park, which is extraordinarily beautiful, intimately cosy and naturally enticing when the nights get darker, the air gets frostier and the urge to relax and get cosy in a log cabin in West Wales, complete with a bubbling, warm hot tub, is irresistible.
You should experience a Welsh Christmas, if you haven't already, whether it’s in an Aberystwyth Holiday Park, a friend’s house or a caravan park in Aberaeron. It is different to Christmas in other parts of Britain with aspects that make it particularly unique and extremely memorable.
Many people who grew up in Wales will still have fond memories of their own Christmases. Midnight mass in village churches filled with the local community; cold, blustery walks on wind-tussled beaches in the last of the winter daylight; coming home in the twilight with damp socks and chattering teeth, and finishing the day with warm, homemade Welsh cakes accompanied with a steaming mug of tea or hot chocolate. However, it’s not just these images of a Welsh childhood at Christmas which make a stay in Wales over the festive break so special. Wales has a deep-rooted history of ages-old traditions – as we spoke about in our previous post. We thought we’d explore a few more so we can give you a real feel of how Christmas in Wales has evolved over time, yet the people here have still managed to keep an awareness of times gone by.
Here are two more Welsh Christmas traditions!
1. Y Gwyliau: Going back through the years, Christmas in Wales used to be overshadowed by the celebrations of the New Year. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Christmas Day marked the beginning of Y Gwyliau - the three-week period where farm work was suspended. As a symbol of this, on Christmas Day the farmers plough was often placed under the table in the room where the meals were eaten. The farmer drank beer and 'wetted' the plough as a reminder that they had not forgotten it.
2. Mari Lwyd (Grey Mary): This custom derives from South Wales and involves a horse’s skull covered in a white sheet, decorated with colourful ribbons. A person hidden underneath the sheet would make the jaw snap. A group of people then led the horse from house to house in the local community. At each door they performed poetry, competing with the occupants, to perform the best verses. When they were eventually allowed to enter the home, they chased everyone by snapping the horse's jaws.
A stay at Penrhos this Christmas is destined to make everyone in the family happy. Wales has its own Christmas traditions, dating back centuries, which makes this wild corner of the world full of adventure and magic. Come along and play a part in the festivities at Penrhos, you won’t be disappointed.