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December 15, 2018 2 min read

Hen Galan – An unusual Welsh celebration

In the tiny wooded Welsh village of Cwm Gwaun near Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, locals are keeping old traditions alive by celebrating the New Year 13 days after everyone else.

Cwm Gwaun village Near to Fishguard, Pembrokeshire

This is because in the 1700s, the people of Wales used the Julian calendar, which was replaced in 1752 by the Gregorian calendar, which is the most commonly used today. Most countries and communities in teh world converted to the Gregorian calendar hundreds of years ago - Cwm Gwaun didn't!  Currently the Julian calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar – the science behind this is long and complicated!

However, the small village and surrounding areas of Cwm Gwaun did not change and therefore they continue to celebrate the New Year on 13th January and also have carried on over the generations the old traditions of New Year.

In true Welsh tradition, the children go from door to door singing and are given ‘Calennig’ in return: sweets or money.  The most frequently heard song these days is;

Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi
A happy new year to you

Ac i bawb sydd yn y tŷ
And to everyone in the house

Dyma fy nymuniad i
This is my wish

Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi
A happy new year to you

After Calennig, these days, everyone now makes their way to Bessie’s infamous front room pub (The Dyffryn Arms) in the village which has been in the same family since 1840. Revellers gather to share a tipple, and the locals cook a large meal for the family. Traditionally Hen Galan was a bigger celebration than Christmas, so turkey or goose was the regular table offering.


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