Hen Galan Hapus – Happy Old New Year

13 Jan

Mari cas gwent

Today (January 13th) is Hen Galan, the Welsh Old New Year, based on the archaic Gregorian rather than the modern Julian calendar. And there’s a long tradition in Wales of welcoming in the Old New Year with fun, festivities, feasting and a dead horse. As you do. She’s called the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) and is a modern incarnation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, also called Rhiannon in Wales.

mari 3 2020

Grey and white animals were prized in pre-Christian times for their ability to flit between this world and Annwn, the Otherworld, which isn’t like the Christian Heaven and Hell. That’s why Christianity almost wiped out the tradition, by the mid 20th century there were only a handful of Mari Lwyds left in Wales, where there had once been hundreds. But now she’s coming back and Husb and I went Wassailing on Saturday and there were six Mari Lwyds prancing around and making mischief. The one at the top is Mari Cas-Gwent (the Chepstow Mari Lwyd) and the bottom one is Mari Benfro (the Pembrokeshire Mari Lwyd). They’re all different.

6 Responses to “Hen Galan Hapus – Happy Old New Year”

  1. carolwb1814 January 15, 2020 at 23:04 #

    Fascinating to read about the old traditions . . . something I’d never heard of. Thanks.

  2. Leonie Andrews January 14, 2020 at 13:01 #

    Happy Old New Year Rosie. I always enjoy your Mari Lwyd posts.

  3. Helen Cherry January 14, 2020 at 00:15 #

    A dead horse! This is a very interesting post indeed and I love the scribblings!

    • Rosie Scribblah January 15, 2020 at 13:13 #

      Thanks Helen. I think the Mari Lwyd links through to the Hobby Horse in some of the ancient festivals in England, particularly may Day 🙂

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