Published: 4-09-2012, 15:03

Christmas in Wales: Mari Lwyd

Christmas in Wales

Christmas in Wales: Music

Christmas in Wales: Wren Hunt

The yearly visit of the Mari Lwyd called for verbal, rather than musical, skill. The Mari Lwyd is a kind of hobbyhorse made from a horse’s skull covered over with a sheet and ornamented with bits of glass and ribbons. The horse’s head is devised in such a way that someone hiding underneath the sheet can snap the horse’s jaws open and shut. Around Christmas time the Mari Lwyd appears in the company of a band of local men. This band visits each house in town, knocking on the door and engaging in an informal contest of improvisational verse with the occupants. The contest is over when one or the other party cannot think of anything more to say. Usually the householders concede defeat, after which they are expected to let the Mari Lwyd party enter their home. Tradition dictates that the householders reward the Mari Lywd band with something to drink and perhaps some coins. A similar custom, known as hodening, also takes place in a number of locations in ENGLAND. These hodening customs occur at several different times of the year, including Christmas.