Gower and the Mari Lwyds

January Vlog:

For my first adventure I went to Find the Mari Lwyds,

this is something I have been intrigued by since moving to Wales and finding out about the myth. It is not a well practiced tradition any more but in certain areas is still very celebrated. and Gower heritage site is one such place.

The Mari Lwyds here are used as part of a wassailing celebration and festival. Wassailing is where the Maris Lwyd are taken to visit a place for good look, this can be a house, pub/shop, or orchard wassailing. We visited the heritages centers orchard wassailing. Where we were waking the tree spirits to allow for a good year of apples to make their cider! the trees were decorated in ribbons, bunting and also cider soaked toast/bread – this was an offering for the tree spirits to make good appes/cider.

we will have to go back in Autumn to find out if this has worked.

This made for an amazing day out and gathering which was a lot of fun to be involved in.

The Mari’s are decorated horses skulls, they have ribbons and bells as their main, and normally glass bottles as eyes, cloaked in white sheets  and controlled by pully systems to make the jaw move and clatter ( you can here this in the youtube video below its quite an unusal site and sound) the mari lwyd wander around the area with a group of followers called merry men,  they knock on house doors and sing for entry, this is initially always refused though song back by the houses occupants – this results in a Welsh rhyming battle until the Mari’s eventually win and can be let in. (though the household first refuse entry the Mari’s are normally always victorious because its good luck to have one visit and once in the like to cause mischief (normally quite skilled at stealing hats!) and the accompanying followers of merry men drink beer and eat treats before carrying on to the next house/place. This is a tradition that happens around January and linked to pagan traditions of wassailing and waking the orchards for the next year.

though changed slightly to fit evolving Christians beliefs and dates and reasons changed to fit a more Christmas theme.

In more modern times the tradition is unfortunately being dropped for more commercially recognized Christmas.

so I feel lucky to find and attend the wassailing at the Gower heritage site as it still celebrates this traditional celebration.

the Mari Lwyd’s were amazing to see up close and I created this you tube vlog of our day at the wassailing even and also in the local area please check it out by clicking on the video below.