Every country has its own traditions that they like to stick to, especially when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and Wales is not shy of showing off its own custom practices. This special occasion only comes around once a year, so why not make this New Year’s the best one yet by following some Welsh traditions whilst visiting Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion or Carmarthenshire?
New Year's Day Swim
Saundersfoot is known for its ever-so-popular New Year’s Day swim and after a two-year hiatus, this West Wales New Year’s tradition is back and bigger than ever! So what does this tradition entail? Saundersfoot’s New Year’s Day swim is a charity event aiming to raise money for new sports clubs. Starting at 12 pm on Saundersfoot beach, participants attend the event ready in their swimming costumes, or if you are daring enough, some swimmers like to show up in fancy dress. Whether you are feeling a little hazy from the night before or feeling bright-faced, a swim in the cold sea is definitely the best way to enter the New Year. And if you don’t feel like taking a dip in the sea you will not be alone, thousands of spectators will be with you cheering everyone on.
Mari Lwyd is a tradition that was first founded in 1800, although, in the 20th century the tradition has found itself to have a large decline. The old tradition consists of a horse’s skull covered with a white sheet and ribbons. It had false ears and eyes and was carried through town on a long pole covered in a sheet and decorated with ribbons. However, in recent years they have replaced the horse’s skull with a paper mache version, which sounds a little more appealing. Nevertheless, this Welsh tradition brings communities together on New Year’s Eve to watch and participate and bring in the New Year.
Another old-school Welsh New Year’s tradition coming your way. The Welsh word ‘calennig’ in English translates to the word ‘calendar’ or to put it simply, it means ‘the first day of the month’. Hence why it was typical for children in rural areas in Wales to go door-knocking and sing a rhyme in Welsh, in the hopes of receiving some money on New Year’s Day. Although this tradition was seen to take place many years ago, the practice is still in our culture and can be seen as a similar act to Christmas carolling, just with a little welsh twist.
This final tradition is often found in many towns in Wales, however, the most popular New Year’s Eve street parties are found in Tenby and Fishguard. Both seaside towns are located in the county of Pembrokeshire, and both ensure the whole town comes to celebrate. Fishguard provides the town with markets of all kinds, ranging from food stalls to even a winter wonderland. And to end the night off they produce a fantastic fireworks show. However, Tenby’s street party is a little different, although they do not have any markets, you will find the street filled with music, people, and a good time. At the countdown for midnight, the town gathers together to watch balloons and confetti drop and a giant fireworks display. Both street parties are an ideal spot for families, couples, and anyone who wants to go into the New Year in the greatest way possible.
So if any of these New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day traditions sound appealing to you, head down to Wales, it is the best place to be to ring in the New Year.