Happy New Year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
A new year is here! Have you collected your Calennig?
All over Wales, people give gifts, food or money on New Year's Day. It is a very ancient tradition that is still very alive today. As a little girl, my mam used to rush around the village visiting as many houses as possible to collect sweets and money. The visits had to be made before midday, so it was often a race against the clock!
Calennig is Welsh for "New Year celebration/gift," though it literally translates to "the first day of the month," deriving from the Latin 'kalends'. (The English word, "Calendar", also derives from this word)
A Calennig is also the name of a skewered orange or apple in South and East Wales. It is normally decorated fragrant thyme and cloves. Do you or your family make these every new year?
Picture left: Children collecting Calennig in Llangynwyd
Here is a Calennig rhyme from 1950s Aberystwyth:
Dydd calan yw hi heddiw,
Rwy'n dyfod ar eich traws
I ofyn am y geiniog,
Neu grwst, a bara a chaws.
O dewch i'r drws yn siriol
Heb nesid dim o'ch gwedd;
Cyn daw dydd calan eto
Bydd llawer yn y bedd.
Today is the start of the new year,
and I have come to you to ask for
or bread, or pastry, and bread and cheese.
O come to [your] door
smiling without waking anyone up;
before the next arrival
of the new year many will be dead.
How did you celebrate the New Year? Do you have any Welsh traditions? Do you remember any?
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Read this with interest. I am currently writing an article for the annual Journal of The Gower Society about old Gower Xmas customs. Would it be possible to use this picture of the 2 boys in it?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Lovely to hear about these old customs, but how would I go about making a calennig with the children in my class?
Awww what lovely stories! Diolch mam a Tracey! xxx
I remember going round to “casglu Calennig” when I was a child. It seems to be a tradition that is dying out, which is a shame. Having said that, I did have a lovely little group of children that called this year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb, a llawer ohonynt! (Happy New Year to everyone, and many of them them!)
Tracy, cousin to Becca of the Welsh Gift Shop.com
I remember it well, as if it was yesterday, there was great excitement about the whole ‘calennig’ morning for us children.
We would get up especially early and wrap up warm, usually in a jumper or cardigan knitted for me by my lovely auntie Mabel, for Christmas! I remember once she had knitted me a cardigan and matching little skirt, how smart I thought I looked in that!
We would set out and visit all the houses in the tiny litte village of Ciliau Aeron, near Aberaeron in Cardiganshire.
I would recite the first four lines of the above rhyme, or the rather simpler to remember :
Blwyddyn newydd dda i chi,
Ac i bawb sydd yn y ti,
Dyma yw’n dymuniad ni,
Blwyddyn newydd dda i chi.
Then anxiously await the door opening and being given some sweets, cakes and a penny or two ,or if we were very lucky a shiny six penny piece.
We would return home with our tummies full and pockets jingling with pennies.
I know the people who live in Cardiganshire are meant to be a bit careful with money, and are called ‘a cardi,’ but I have to say the people in my little village were always very generous indeed!
At home we would be counting our bounty and filling our piggy banks and feeling very rich indeed!
Blwyddyn Newydd Dda to you all!
Ann, Mam to Becca of The Welsh Gift Shop.com