HOW TO HAVE A WELSH CHRISTMAS
irst read the extracts from Monmouthshire Christmas on this site, Then buy the book from iBS Bookshop also accessible from this site. Monmouthshire is on the Welsh Borders, and alternates with time, wars and politics, between being Welsh and being English! Thus the customs in this area, where I live incidentally, are a mixture of both countries, but before the WWII, predominantly Welsh.
In Monmouthshire Christmas you can read how families have celebrated Christmas from the 18th century to the present. How they decorated their homes (again, as will all the Celtic countries, mainly with evergreens) what they shopped for and how they entertained. There are poems and extracts of Welsh Christmas to read aloud after dinner, a Welsh Mummers play to perform. You can also discover the joy of the Mari Lwyd and try out this rhyming forfeits game with your friends and family.
The family must challenge the visitors with a rhyme, and the visitors must come up with an answering rhyme. This can get quite hilarious as each tries to outdo the next verse, until one gives up, usually in howls of laughter!
Other books which set the scene are
A Child's Christmas in Wales. by Dylan Thomas Which tells of this famous welsh authors own Christmases in a small welsh coastal town. A must for real atmosphere. You can also buy this as an audio cassette
A Child's Christmas in Wales and five poems also available through Amazon.com
Welsh Folk Customs is the must for those of Welsh extraction! Here you will find the facts behind all the traditions of Wales written by Trefor Owen, a very well respected Historian and Welshman, who was long associated with the Welsh Folk Museum in St Fagans South Wales, now known as the Museum of Welsh Life. remarkably inexpensive for the wealth of information within at £5.24 from iBS Bookshop.co.uk from this site.
I have found a mysterious title which is reviewed as a book, but is in Amazons Music lists! Out shortly, Christmas in Wales edited by Dew Roberts sounds good, I will tell you more about this after its release.
When I did my Welsh Tree, I bought Welsh symbols. Love spoons, artificial Daffodils and Leeks, ornaments made from polished coal, Celtic 'stained glass' roundels, and Welsh Ladies in their distinctive costumes. All things easily found in Welsh gift shops. I am not sure if friends Stateside can get these things, and my researches have not yet discovered a source on the Net. But if anyone is interested, a 7' tree can be fully decorated for around $200 plus carriage. I do them regularly for overseas exhibitions, and would be willing to assist ex-Welsh descendants and those wanting a Welsh Christmas, at least until I can track down easier sources!
Again, I recommend you to visit Bronners (World Tour page link) and ask the question, they may be able to help!
One thing you must do in preparation for a Welsh Christmas, is Taffy making! Taffy is of course, Toffee, and any recipe will do. Christmas Eve all the girls used to make Taffy, and put lumps into cold water to see initials of their future sweethearts - seems to me this could be a fun evenings entertainment for boys and girls. For the serious Welsh collector, there is a recording company in Wales called Sain who do the most wonderful CD's and cassettes. They are not yet available on the Net, but I am working on it. Anyone interested, EMail me for further details.