The new year can be an exciting time of the year, wishing loved ones and friends another prosperous year or a better year than the last, and we in Wales have some unique traditions to coincide with the celebrations.

One of those interesting traditions is the Mari Lwyd.

The Mari Lwyd tradition entails the use of a horse’s skull mounted on a pole and carried by an individual hidden under a sackcloth. It represents a regional variation of a “hooded animal” tradition that appears in various forms throughout Britain.

They would form into teams to accompany the horse on its travels around the local area, and although the makeup of such groups varied, they typically included an individual to carry the horse, a leader, and individuals dressed up. The team would then carry the Mari Lwyd to local houses, where they would request entry through the medium of song.

It was considered unlucky to refuse entry to the Fari Lwyd. Once the group had entered the house, they would entertain the family and receive food and drink in return.

Another Tradition that perhaps has a stronger following throughout Wales is Canu Calennig or ‘Singing in the New Year’

It is a custom in many areas for children to visit relatives and neighbours early on New Year’s Day to sing and to receive money or gifts. This must be completed before 12 noon on New Year’s Day, or else it is deemed unlucky.

Many areas have different verses/rhymes. Why not encourage your child or children of close family and friends to go and sing ‘Calennig’ this year? Here’s an example of a Calennig verse from Dyffryn Aman that you can use:

Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi,
Ac i bawb sydd yn y tŷ,
Dyna yw’n dymuniad ni,
A blwyddyn newydd dda,
Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi,

Gwenu’n llawen, dyma’r flwyddyn wedi dod,
Y flwyddyn orau fu erioed,
O dyma hyfryd flwyddyn,
O dyma hyfryd flwyddyn,
O dyma hyfryd flwyddyn,
Y flwyddyn newydd dda”

Don’t forget to share some of your Calennig Verses and Rhymes with us!

Blwyddyn Newydd dda / Happy New Year!