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Mwynhewch y gorau o Gymru - Enjoy the very best of Wales!

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17 Jan

St Dwynwen's Day - The Welsh Valentine's Day

Posted by Becca Hemmings in Welsh Traditions

Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus: What is St Dwynwen's Day?

Dydd Santes Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent to Valentine's Day and is celebrated on 25th January every year.

The legend of Dwynwen is a very sad, shocking one. She was a beautiful Celtic princess, the prettiest of all the King of Wales's 24 daughters (Brychan Brycheiniog of Brechon also had 11 sons!) who lived during the 5th century.

Dwynwen was in deeply in love with the handsome Maelon Dafodrill, but her father had already betrothed her to another, so he refused to give them his consent. On finding out, Maelon callously abandoned her. With a broken heart, and grieved to have upset her father, Dwynwen ran to the woods and begged God to make her forget her love for Maelon.

Exhausted and aungished, Dwynwen eventually fell asleep. Whilst dreaming, an angel visited her and left a sweet smelling potion. This would erase all memories of Maelon, and his callous heart would also be cooled, but so much so that he turned to ice. Dwynwen was horrified to find her love frozen solid. She prayed again to God, who answered her prayers by granting her three wishes.

Her first wish was to have Maelon thawed and for him to forget her; her second, to have God look kindly on the hopes and dreams of true lovers whilst mending the broken hearts of the spurned; and her third was for her to never marry, but to devote the remainder of her life to God, as thanks for saving Maelon.

Dwynwen later became a nun and settled on Ynys Llanddwyn - a small island off the west coast of Anglesey in north Wales. She found a church there, remains of which can still be seen today. After her death she was declared the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers and ever since, Welsh lovers have looked to St Dwynwen for her help in courting their true love, or for forgetting a false one.

Her most well known saying is “Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness

Surprise your cariad with a Welsh card or say 'dwi'n dy garu di' (I love you) on 25th January, and don't let your heart turn to ice!

We have a wonderful Welsh Valentine collection, have a browse here.

11 Jan

Halen Môn and the Anglesey Sea Salt Company

Posted by Becca Hemmings

How do you harvest sea salt?

Halen Môn Sea Salt is used all over the world, but it’s thanks to one place that it tastes so delicious; The Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. 

The company began with a saucepan of seawater on a family Aga. Today the sea salt is enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even the odd US president!

So how is it harvested? Great pride is taken in harvesting the white gold, marrying centuries-old craft with high technology. 

1. Halen Mon use pure charcoal-filtered seawater, drawn from the Menai Strait around Anglesey. The water has been filtered twice - once through a mussel bed and a sandbank.

2. The water is gently heated in a vacuum so that it boils at a nice low temperature. This releases steam and leaves a salty brine.

3. When the concentration of salt in the water is high enough, it is then  transferred into shallow crystallisation tanks.

4. At this stage the salt crystals form, which is then harvested by hand.

5. The crystals are then rinsed in brine until they shine and then dried, ready for packing!

You will find that every pack of salt is marked with the harvest date and maker's mark.

We have some lovely canisters and gift sets available at welshgiftshop.com. The mini kilner jars being 2012's favourite Christmas present. We sold this Welsh luxury world wide!

 

http://welshgiftshop.com/collections/welsh-kitchen/products/halen-mon-salt-canister-gift-set-roasted-garlic
Halen Mon Roasted Garlic Sea Salt and Canister - £5.99

 

04 Jan

Calennig - Welsh New Year Celebrations

Happy New Year! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

Children collecting Calennig in Llangynwyd 2013 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
[my] money,
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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