Nos Galan Races
31 December 2013
It might still be over 2 months away but preparations for one of
Wales' more unique new year celebrations are well underway.
The races, which this year celebrates its 55th
anniversary, are held each New Year's Eve in memory of local folk
hero Guto Nyth Bran. It was said that he could run from
Mountain Ash to Pontypridd and back
in the time it took a kettle to boil.
Hundreds of people take part in the races whilst hundreds more
line the streets in encouragement. The highlight of the night will
be the arrival of a Mystery Runner who will represent the spirit of
Guto, carrying the torch from his graveside at St Gwynno's Church
down the hillside to the town centre four miles away.
Previous Mystery Runners have included Linford Christie, John
Hartson, James Hook, Shane Williams and Dai Greene.
If you're tempted to take part, then online registration is now
open, just go to www.nosgalan.co.uk
Southern Wales Tourism would like to wish
everyone a Merry Chritsmas. Nadolig Llawen i chi gyd.
And just in case you've had enough of turkey, chocolates and
Christmas TV bear in mind some of the great events happening over
the festive period.
The Porthcawl Christmas Morning Swim
The brave (of foolish) take to the icy seas and
Porthcawl's Coney Beach to raise money for local charities.
You're welcome to join in or take the sensible option and watch
from the shore.
The Welsh Grand National
Chepstow Racecourse in the beautiful Wye Valley is
the setting for the running of Wales' most prestigious horse
Dragons v Blues
It's a local derby in the Rugby's Magners League at
Newport's Rodney Parade ground. Expect a passionate
atmosphere and great rugby as these rivals go head to head
Calennig, New Year Celebrations
Wave goodbye to 2010 and say hello to 2011 at
Cardiff's New Year celebrations on City Hall Lawn. Ice
skating, live music and a spectacular firework display will welcome
in the new year.
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
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 www.folkwales.org.uk and www.museumwales.ac.uk for providing
information for this blog and Cardiff Boy 2 for the
This weekend is Calan Gaeaf in Wales.
Translated into English, this means the start of winter and is an
ancient celebration to mark the Celtic New Year. These days
the more modern celebration of Halloween is more widely celebrated
although this has its roots in the Calan Gaeaf celebrations.
There are plenty of events happening throughout Southern Wales to
celebrate Halloween. St Fagans National History Museum near
Cardiff are running a series of ghost tours through their site calling at some
of their haunted buildings as you go.
Meanwhile Tredegar House on the outskirts of Newport is
getting all creepy. Visitors are invited dared
to explore the cobwebbed halls and living graveyard.
If you're feeling really brave then you should head for the most
haunted house in Wales - Llancaiach Fawr near Caerphilly.
Strange goings-on have been reported throughout the house and
grounds. They're marking Halloween with a Psychic Evening and Ghost Tours