Sunday, 22 January 2012

Skulls and Morris

Today is the 21st of January and we joined in the celebrations of Hen Galan.,the end of the old year and the start of the new. ( Normally the13th January according to the Julian calender www.timeanddate.com/calendar/julian-calendar.html ).In 1752 everyone moved to the Gregorian calender, except for a small community in Pembrokshire, Cwm Gwaum. Here it is celebrated with children singing traditional songs trying to get money or sweets from house to house. ..along with the Mari Lwyd.Its an old Welsh tradition that has had a revival here in Chepstow.
There were a lot of men and women dressed in multicoloured ragged jackets, fancy hats and blacked faces..Border Morris - mainly dance teams using sticks from along the welsh English borders.
I remember in the past seeing them burn the end of a cork to wipe their faces with...probably not pc now so have to use face paint !. The event is organised by Widder Morris www.thewidders.co.uk/widders_wassail.htm .
Later in the early evening the sides from Wales meet the wassailers and hankerchief morris dancers from England half way across the bridge. (One side of the bridge is in England the other in Wales.) Wassailing is a tradition from the south of England...and guess what they were from Winchcombe !
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Later in the early evening the sides from Wales meet the wassailers and hankerchief morris dancers from England half way across the bridge. (One side of the bridge is in England the other in Wales.) Wassailing is a tradition from the south of England...and guess what they were from Winchcombe ! The Mari Lwyd also shows his bony whiteface...The Mari Lwyd The Grey Mare...or even night mare!  It is unique to this part of Wales and is used to celebrate the passing of Midwinter . The revellers knock on doors singing as they go. The occupants of the houses can either answer the door with drink and food,or they can challenge the revellers to a singing competition. The following links to a great BBC black and white film of the knocking on doors and singing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_xFo6Hifzk

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