January 05, 2020 5 min read

St Dwynwen's Day - Dydd Santes Dwynwen


St Dwynwen's Day is Wales' own version of St Valentine’s Day and is celebrated on 25th January in Wales (3 weeks before Valentine’s Day). In 2020, it is on Saturday 25th January and is the most romantic day in the Welsh calendar. It is celebrated with the giving and receiving of cards and presents and by saying "I Love you" in Welsh, "Rwy'n dy garu di". 

Table of Contents

  1. St Dwynwen's Day Greetings
  2. Who was St Dwynwen
  3. Llanddwyn Island and St Dwynwen
  4. Newborough Beach and Ynys Llanddwyn
  5. About FelinFach
  6. Other FelinFach Related Blogs

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Saint Dwynwen’s Day Greetings

Promote Wales, Promote Love, Celebrate St Dwynwen's Day!!!

All good patriotic Welshmen and women should be celebrating St Dwynwen's day by saying “I love you in Welsh”, namely “Rwy'n dy garu di”. Other greetings are “Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus” or “Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day”.

St  Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers and she is the Welsh version of St Valentine. The popularity of St Dwynwen's Day has increased massively in recent years so why wait until St Valentine's Day (14th February) to make your romantic feelings known, when you can wish your loved one 'Rwy’n dy garu di ' (I love you) three weeks earlier? You can show your proud Welsh heritage and point of difference by celebrating St Dwynwen's Day as opposed to Valentines Day!!

Who was Santes Dwynwen?

Her name, Dwynwen means "she who leads a blessed life". Her home was in what is now the Brecon Beacons National Park area of Wales. She lived during the 5th century and was, according to legend one of, if not the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog's twenty four to thirty six daughters, yes 24 to 36, depending on which story you believe. Anyway, the story is that Dwynwen fell in love with a guy called Prince Maelon Dyfodrill, but her father had already promised that she should marry someone else. Dwynwen fell asleep and was visited by an angel who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into an ice block.

Distraught, Dwynwen fled to the woods, where she pleaded with God to make her forget Maelon. God responded to Dwynwen’s grief and then granted her three wishes. Firstly, she wished that Maelon be thawed, secondly that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and third that she should never marry. All three of her wishes were fulfilled and to give her thanks Dwynwen devoted herself to God's service for the rest of her life. She became a nun who founded a convent on Ynys Llanddwyn (Llanddwyn Island) on the west coast of Ynys Mon, the island of Anglesey.

Llanddwyn Island and St Dwynwen

The name Llanddwyn means "The church of St. Dwynwen". The tidal island is near to the village of Niwbwrch (Newborough) and the beautiful Newborough Forest, situated off the West coast of Ynys Mon, Anglesey. The views are spectacular: across the water, the peaks of Snowdonia rise up from the Menai Strait and the Llŷn (often mis-spelt as Lleyn) Peninsula points all the way to Ireland, whose Wicklow hills can be seen on a clear day. So maybe it is unsurprising that the island is also the setting for one of Wales’ greatest love stories.

Llanddwyn Island contains two lighthouses, a number of cottages and is reached, only on foot, by the beautiful Llanddwyn and Newborough beaches. The two lighthouse towers still stand at the western end of Ynys Llanddwyn. The newer of the two, resembling an Anglesey windmill tower, is disused. Nearby are cottages built for pilots who would board ships to guide them through the difficult waters of the Menai Strait. A lifeboat was stationed here from 1840. Over just seven days in December 1852, the lifeboat rescued 36 sailors from three separate wrecks: Athena (Greek), Die Krone (Prussian) and Juno (Russian). 

In 1879, a plain cross was erected in Dwynwen’s memory, followed by the Celtic cross in 1903. 

 St Dwynwen's Day - Welsh Valentine's Day - Llanddwyn Island - Anglesey - Ynys Mon

Dwynwen died in 465AD and on Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn) a well was named after her as a place of pilgrimage. Visitors to the well believed the sacred fish that lived in the well could predict whether or not their relationship would be happy. When visiting and looking into the well if the fish is seen swimming around and lively then it is a sign of a faithful and devoted husband! Besides from the well, there is also Crochan Llanddwyn, meaning Llanddwyn’s cauldron, which is a small wishing well that is located between Llanddwyn Island and Newborough. According to folklore, if the water of the well boils while visitors are present, love and good luck will follow.

Newborough Beach and Ynys Llanddwyn

The village of Newborough was founded at the end of the 13th century by the displace inhabitants of Llanfaes who were moved to Newborough by Edward I to create space to build the castle at Beaumaris. In the  area south of  the village lies one of the largest areas of snad dunes in the west coast of Britain. There are more than 10 miles (16 km) of footpaths crossing Ynys Llanddwyn and Newborough Warren, including the Anglesey Coastal Path, and it is a very popular place to visit. The island provides a worth-while goal after the mile-long walk along the beach from the nearest car park. Ynys Llanddwyn on the west coast of Ynys Mon (Island of Anglesey), with the neighbouring beach, has been awarded Blue Flag Beach status in recognition of the cleanliness of the sea and the beaches. The Twr Mawr lighthouse marks the western entrance to the Menai Strait.

Ynys Llanddwyn - Llanddwyn Island - Llanddwyn and Newborough Beaches - Menai Strait in the distance
Newborough Beach (also known as Traeth Llanddwyn) is a 3½ mile long sandy beach reaching from Llanddwyn Island to Abermenai Point. The shore is mostly fine sand with small amounts of shingle, backed by dunes. Further back are Newborough Forest and the nature reserve of Newborough Warren one of the largest areas of sand dunes found in the UK and Newborough Forest a 2,000-acre (8 km²) woodland. Much of the area around Newborough has been declared a nature reserve making it popular for those interested in geology, botany, birds and other wildlife. 

The rocks and geology at Ynys Llanddwyn date from the pre-Cambrian era of c.500 million years ago. Volcanic pillow lavas on the beach stand testament to the phenomenal under-sea forces which shaped this landscape, which started its geological life to the south of New Zealand.

The island is part of a National Nature Reserve which also includes Newborough Warren to the south and the Cefni Saltmarch to the north.

About FelinFach

Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets and the iconic Welsh Tapestry blankets which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool and Global Welsh.

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Last Updated 15th October 2020

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