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West Wales has many interesting legends. From basking mermaids along the Ceredigion coast to the fascinating stories that surround the legend of Merlin. However, you may not know that Wales has its own equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated on January 25. Let us take you through St Dwynwen, the patron saint of love in the lead-up to Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen’s Day).

Dwynwen was a princess who fell in love with Prince Maelon in the 5th century. Her father had already arranged her marriage to someone else so in her grief she fled to the woods where she begged God that she would forget about Maelon. An angel visited her and brought a sweet potion which erased all memory of the prince and turned him into a block of ice.

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Dwynwen was granted 3 wishes by God: her first wish was for Maelon to be thawed, her second wish was that all hopes and dreams and lovers would be fulfilled and her third wish was that she should never marry. Dwynwen was so grateful to God, she decided to devote her life to his service by becoming a nun. She founded a convent at Llandwyn, on an island just off Anglesey, where a spring, Ffynnon Dwynwen,  has become a place of pilgrimage.

Today St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated by lovers in many parts of Wales in a similar way to St Valentine’s Day with expressions of love through greeting cards and gifts.

Love spoons were originally made by young men during the winter or by men on sea voyages who wished to show their interest in courting a particular girl. A girl may have received several spoons from different suitors and they would be displayed on a wall at her home. Today Welsh love spoons are used to declare a suitor’s intent, to commemorate a celebration such as a wedding or engagement, a birth, or christening and to express the feeling of love on St Dwynwen’s Day.

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