Nos Galan Gaeaf - Welsh Halloween Traditions

Nos Galan Gaeaf is celebrated the day before Winter (Calan Gaeaf - 1st November) it is a 'Ysbrydnos' - a night when the ghosts and ghouls are rife. Here are some ancient Welsh traditions:

  • Avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, since spirits are thought to gather here.
  • Coelcerth: Families would build a fire and everyone would add a stone with their name on it. The following morning, if any of the named stones were missing, that person would die within the year. Imagine the sleepless night hoping your name would remain!
  • Y Hwch Ddu Gwta - Legend has it that terrifying spirits in the form of a black sow without a tail and a headless woman would roam the countryside on Nos Galan Gaeaf. Keep indoors in front of a roaring fire and you should be safe! 
  • Never look into your mirror on this night, or you might see witches and demons in your sleep!
  • Eiddiorwg Dalen - Don't touch or smell the ground ivy - as it will make you see hags or witches while you sleep! It could also give you the power of prophetic dreams if prepared correctly; Boys would cut 10 leaves of ivy, throw one away and put the rest under their pillow. Girls would have to grow a rose, train it around a large hoop, then slip through the hoop three times before cutting the rose in perfect silence and placing it under their pillow (a bit tougher for the girls!)
  • Teiliwr: In Glamorgan, tailors were associated with witchcraft. They supposedly possessed the power to ‘bewitch’ anybody if they wished! Perhaps wait a while before you get your clothes adjusted.

the bonfire

Image source: Wikipedia 

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Diolch o galon Becca for these absolutely wonderful Welsh Galan Gaeaf traditions! I hadn’t heard of these before. I will definitely take heed! 🎃👻

Vaughan Gravenor-Howells

I love your shop, makes me so homesick for Wales though.

pauline lyall

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