St Dwynwen’s Day

by Julia Bradley on January 22, 2014

In Wales, St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated on January 25 to commemorate the patron saint of friendship and love.

Little is known about the occasion in the rest of the UK, so we’re putting that right with this guide to what it’s all about.

History

The story of Dwynwen is not exactly Mills and Boon, but is inspirational nonetheless.

She lived during the 5th century, and legend has it that she was the prettiest of Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters.

She fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged for her to marry someone else.

The devastated Dwynwen fled into the woods and begged God to help her forget about Maelon. An angel visited her in her sleep and gave her a potion to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God later granted her three more requests. The first was to have Maelon thawed, the second was that God met the hopes and dreams of true lovers and the third was that she would never marry.

After her wishes came true, she devoted her life to God and anyone who was tortured by love. She set up a convent on the island of Llanddwyn, off the coast of Anglesey, where she lived as a hermit until her death in around 460 AD.

The remains of her church can still be seen on the island, as can Dwynwen’s well, which has become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers.

Psychic fish?

The story goes that the well is home to sacred fish that can predict couples’ destinies. If the fish move so violently that it looks like the water has come to the boil, your relationship will flourish.

You can also test the faithfulness of your husband by sprinkling breadcrumbs into the water and then placing a handkerchief on the surface. If the fish disturb the surface, you husband will remain faithful.

If the fish look as if they’re sleeping – well, the less said the better!

Celebrations

St Dwynwen’s Day was revived in the 1960s after Vera Williams, a student a tUniversity College Bangor, commissioned four designs for cards in the style of those given on Valentine’s Day.

The idea spread, and by 2004 the January 25 celebration was so well established that Gwynedd County Council began promoting it.

Today, special events are held to mark the occasion, such as love-themed concerts and singles nights, while those struck by love send greetings cards, give Welsh love spoons and bouquets of flowers as tokens of their affection, and compose romantic poems.

It’s not yet quite as popular as Valentine’s Day in Wales, but is rapidly becoming a more important date on the calendar.

Did you know?

• St Dwynwen is also the patron saint of sick animals.

• The name Dwynwen means “she who leads a blessed life”.

• The Welsh word for love is “cariad”.

• In Anglesey, adults greet each other with a warm embrace and a kiss on the forehead on St Dwynwen’s Day.

• A popular dish to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day is a lamb stew with red wine and herbs.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus (Happy St Dwynwen’s Day)!


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Julia Bradley

Research Assistant at Interflora - interested in all things PR!

Post category: Occasions, Other Occasions, Valentine's Day  

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