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Watch: Incredible black and white Mari Lwyd video from the BBC Cymru archives

09 Dec 2023 2 minute read
Left: The Mari Lwyd at Llangynwyd, Glamorgan. Right: Y Fari at Llangynwyd led by Sianco’r Castell. Photo: Frederic Evans between 1904 and 1910

Stephen Price

Move over Mary, it’s Mari season now if the growing number of revived wassailing events and trending online chatter are an indication of who owns the throne this Christmas.

Mari Lwyd, our grey mare (or Blessed Mary – the debate rages on) even made an appearance in the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who and was mentioned in a recent episode of Mastermind.

She needs little introduction nowadays – her revival we touched on only last week here at Nation.Cymru, along with some thoughts on her Welshness.

Customs vary, but Lady Llanover’s (which is set for a revival itself this year) took place on the twelfth night – the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Others (similarly dated) on around Hen Galan – Wales’ new year celebrations based on the old Julian calendar.

So she’s perhaps in town much earlier nowadays (St Fagans on 16 & 17 Dec for example) but that’s only in keeping with how Christmas is played in general.

Like Mari Lwyd herself, a delightful video from the BBC archives resurfaces annually as Christmas approaches, so we thought we’d share it here in all its glory. 

The video was filmed in Llangynwyd, Glamorgan (a village between Maesteg and Bridgend) and featured on a programme called Lolfa in 1966.

Some words from the pwnco, or rhyming battle that might help you – you’re on your own with the rest though:

Wel dyma ni’n dwad (Well here we come)

Gy-feillion di-niwad (Innocent friends)

I ofyn am gennad (To ask leave)

I ofyn am gennad (To ask leave)

I ofyn am gennad i ganu (To ask leave to sing)

Debates and claims to one side now, let’s all enjoy this beautiful custom. And if you’re attending a Mari event anywhere in the world, drop us an email or tag us on Instagram and we’ll try to document her travels as best we can as we approach Hen Galan.

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