Welsh legends and traditions that might make it a little harder to get to sleep tonight...

Welsh legends and traditions that might make it a little harder to get to sleep tonight...

The history of Halloween in Wales, “Calon Gaeaf”

Calan Gaeaf (1st November) is traditionally celebrated as the first day of winter. With summer at an end, the harvest brought safely in, and shorter days and longer nights taking hold, Calan Gaeaf was a rousing celebration of all that had gone before. It was also a respectful nod towards what was to come - the death of nature and a hard winter, but with the promise of spring and rebirth.

Naturally, the night before Calan Gaeaf took on special significance too. In Wales, it is called Nos Galan Gaeaf. People believe that on this night, the spirits walk and the veil between the living and the dead thins. If you know about Mexico's Day of the Dead, you may see some similarities!

Not only was Calan Gaeaf the beginning of winter, it was an opportunity to reunite with loved ones long departed.

Of course, there were several rituals associated with the festival, some which have faded into history and some which still happen to this day!

Y Ladi Wen

Being a supernatural festival, Nos Galan Gaeaf also permitted less welcome spirits to enter the world.

Y Ladi Wen (the White Lady) was said to guard crossroads and graveyards against other, more sinister ghouls. It’s also said that when she wasn't on duty she was an effective threat for naughty children!

Y Lady Wen. Sourced from WalesLandofmyFathers on Tumbler.


Hwch Ddu

In North Wales, Hwch Ddu, the Black Sow, was one of Calan Gaeaf's more frightening apparitions. At the end of the festival, as the bonfire died down, a shout went up:

Adref, adref, am y cyntaf! Home, home at once!

Hwch ddu gwta a gipio'r ola! The tailless black sow is sure to roam!

Everyone would run home in fear of being eaten by this fearsome beast - quite often a member of the village dressed in a pigskin - it was a good way to end the party and get the kids to bed!

Harvest Feasts

The end of October was also the end of harvest time. If the weather had been kind and the crops bountiful, the stores would be full for the hard months ahead. Giving thanks for the harvest, people would eat a special meal on Nos Cala Gaeaf, called stwmp naw rhyw. Containing a selection of vegetables, this hearty dish would be cooked in a large cauldron over a roaring fire.

The dish contained nine key ingredients including carrots, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, leeks, peas, milk and butter - but could be made with any crop which had been abundant in the harvest.

Consuming this meal was meant to keep evil spirits at bay and sometimes a wedding ring was concealed in the mixture, to be found by a lucky young person who, it is said, would marry soon!

Would you try this dish?

Source: https://theroyalvictoria.co.uk/journal/how-we-celebrate-halloween-in-wales

For me, halloween also means that Christmas is just around the corner and if, like me, you like to get organised early for Christmas you may already be thinking about gift ideas 🤔

Luckily for you, you can now buy three months worth of subscription boxes up front! This package will give the recipient the December (Christmas), January (New Year/St. Dwynwen’s day) and February boxes.

The content varies from month to month (keeping it a fun surprise) but generally includes gifts from local Welsh businesses and ways to help you stay on track/strengthen your Welsh language.

You don’t need to worry about remembering to cancel it either- this isn’t a rolling subscription. You pay up front just for these three boxes!

This is a perfect gift for:

  • Welsh people far from home or lovers of Wales who would love a slice of Wales through their post box (we ship internationally! 🌍)

  • Friends with a new years resolution to learn a new language who you want to help smash it 💪

  • Friends who may have just moved to Wales and are looking to engage more in the culture 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

  • Loved ones who you would love to help engage more in the Welsh language and culture 🙌

  • Anyone who would love a gift that keeps on giving- wouldn’t January be the perfect time to get one of these through the post?! 😍

If any of these sounds like someone you know (or if you fancy treating yourself!) then head to https://siopdwt.com/products/three-months-of-pre-paid-welsh-learner-boxes to grab yours.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.