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More from the Tumblr language challenge - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
More from the Tumblr language challenge
I'm really enjoying the language challenge over on Tumblr. The nice thing is that it has prompts for each level and also everyone is doing different languages. Some people are doing it in more than one at the same time!

I'm just about keeping up, though I finished Day 11 and Day 12 today so I'll have to do Day 13 and Day 14 tomorrow.

The prompt for Day 11 was to find an article in your target language about the month of January in the country where your language is spoken. Write a summary. I found this article in Welsh about the Mari Lwyd. There's a short film (about 5 minutes) made in the 1960s of the Mari Lwyd visiting a house.

Link to article and video here...

Some of you may already be familiar with the tradition, but for those of you who aren't, here's the English translation of the main points of the article.

A remarkably strange custom connected with the New Year and the period of Christmas is the Mari Lwyd. The Mari was a horse's skull draped with cloth and ribbons. The skull was put on a pole so that a person under the cloth could open and close the mouth.

A group of men led the Mari and visited each house or pub in the area where they sang merry verses asking for an invitation to come in. The owner of the house answered the song challenge before deciding to allow entrance or not. This exchange could continue for a little while and it was unlucky to prevent the entrance of the Mari Lwyd.

Afterwards, in the house, the group amused the family and accepted food and drink in exchange for them being allowed to come in.

But not every home welcomed the noisy company and a decline was seen in the custom since the end of the 19th century.

Despite the traditions of the Mari happening across the period of Christmas and the New Year, it is especially connected with Epiphany (Twelfth Night), January 6.

At the end of the film one of the men recounts a little of the history of the tradition of the Mari in the area. If you want to see some of the Mari Lwyd skulls, go to the Welsh Folk Museum in Saint Fagans, near Cardiff.

Current Mood: busy busy

4 comments or Leave a comment
From: ex_hrj Date: January 13th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually owned a horse skull at one point in my life. It would have been amusing to do a Mari Lwyd, but instead I ended up giving it to a friend who wanted one for a different ritual purpose.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: January 14th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a case of storing these things if you're only going to use them once a year or even less. Better to let it go to someone who can use it.
batwrangler From: batwrangler Date: January 14th, 2016 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a much more cheerful event than Susan Cooper made it out to be! :)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: January 14th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I perhaps ought to re-read the Susan Cooper books. I read then once many years ago and the didn't quite click with me, not like the Garner books did, but I know so many people who love them that I ought to give them another chance.

Actually I wouldn't mind trying to translate what the chap is saying in the video at the end and also translating the song. I think there is some good natured banter going on there between the singers and the householder.
4 comments or Leave a comment