Do you look forward to indulging your sweet tooth during the festive season? If so, you might like to try the Christmas Eve custom – Noson Gyflaith (Toffee Evening). Making toffee was part of the Christmas or New Year festivities in parts of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire earlier this century. Families would invite friends for supper and during the evening the entertainment would include games, making toffee and storytelling.
A heavy pan would be set on the stove and sugar, butter, lemon juice and water used to produce a thick toffee which was poured onto the hearth or a slate or stone slab. Then, it was all hands together as everyone joined in to pull and twist the toffee until it became golden yellow in colour. It was quite a skill to pull the toffee to the correct consistency and shape. In south Wales housewives were known to sell the toffee from their homes or from market stalls, a six inch strip for a penny!
Many families stayed up all night on Christmas Eve before going in procession to the Plygain service, a morning service with carols, very early (3 a.m. or 6 a.m.) on Christmas Day. To pass the time they decorated their houses with holly and mistletoe and made toffee. It is said that when testing to see if the toffee was ready by dropping spoonfuls into icy cold water, the resulting shapes could show the initials of a young person’s future love.
However you choose to spend Christmas Eve this year, we wish you a peaceful and happy festive season. Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.