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Y Fari Lwyd

Mari LwydWhilst Cardiff celebrates the New Year with music, ice skating and fireworks, the people of the small village of Llangynwyd near Bridgend celebrate in a totally different and unique way.

The village is home to the Mari Lwyd, one of the strangest and most ancient of a number of customs with which people in Glamorgan and Gwent used to mark the passing of the darkest days of midwinter.

The Mari Lwyd consists of a mare's skull fixed to the end of a wooden pole; white sheets are fastened to the base of the skull, concealing the pole and the person carrying the Mari. The lower jaw is sometimes spring-loaded, so that the Mari's 'operator' can snap it at passers-by. Coloured ribbons are usually fixed to the skull and to the reins.

During the New Year's Day ceremony, the skull is carried through the streets of the village by a group of people and calls at a number of houses and pubs along the route.

The tradition involves the arrival of the horse and its party at the door of the house or pub, where they sing several introductory verses. Then comes a battle of wits (known as pwnco) in which the people inside the door and the Mari party outside exchange challenges and insults in rhyme. At the end of the battle, which can be as long as the creativity of the two parties holds out, the Mari party enters with another song.

Victory in the debate would ensure admission into the house for the Mari Lwyd group, to partake of cakes and ale and perhaps collect a money gift as well. 

The tradition can still be seen today in Llangynwyd as well as several other villages in Southern Wales.

(Thanks to and for providing information for this blog and Cardiff Boy 2 for the picture)

2 comments for “Y Fari Lwyd”

  1. Howard Potter
    Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 1:45:42 PM

    Mae Traddodiad Fari Llangynwyd yn parhau trwy waith Cwmni Dawns Werin Caerdydd, nid pobl lleol !

  2. aled Gwyn Llynfi
    Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 1:28:33 AM

    Howard Potter, mae'r Fari'n parhau'n ddi-dor erc cyn co yn Llangynwyd gyta ni, a does gan cwmni dawns werin Caerdydd dim byd o gwbl i wneud a fa

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