Mari Lwyd

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Gotoarrow.png Wales Gotoarrow.png Mari Lwyd

The Mari Lwyd (or Grey Mare in English) is a New Year, or Calennig, celebration associated with south-east Wales, in particular Glamorgan and Gwent, but was almost forgotten by the mid-20th century.

The Mari Lwyd consists of a horse's skull fixed to the end of a wooden pole; white sheets are fastened to the base of the skull, concealing the pole and the person carrying the Mari. The eye sockets are often filled with green bottle-ends, or other coloured material. The lower jaw is sometimes spring-loaded, so that the Mari's 'operator' can snap it at passers-by. Coloured ribbons are usually fixed to the skull and to the reins (if any).

During the ceremony, the skull (sometimes made of wood) is carried through the streets of the village by a party that stands in front of every house to sing traditional songs. The singing sometimes consists of a rhyme contest (pwnco) between the Mari party and the inhabitants of the house, that challenge each other with verses.

The Mari Lwyd has become associated with a resurgent awareness of Welsh folk culture. It has been revived recently in places like Llantrisant, Llangynwyd and Cowbridge. The town council of Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, well outside the Mari Lwyd's traditional area, organised "The World's Largest Mari Lwyd" for the Millennium celebrations in 2000.

Recordings

  • The song Mari Lwyd appears on the album "Hyn", by Carreg Lafar, 1998

External links