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New Traditions from Old Ways

Today we were at a wonderful celebration of a very old mid- winter tradition found in Wales and the borders. The Mari (mare) is a horse skull that was carried from door to door with a Mary Llwyd group who went into houses singing and challenging families to rhyming insults in Welsh. It was a battle of wits. Followed by good spirits and refreshment. After more banter the Mari would bless the house and then move on to the next.

At Chepstow they have created a lovely festival that has Mari’s from all over - not just Wales - gathering and helping with the Wassail.

Morris troops entertained us as the Mari’s swayed and clacked their jaws. This recent tradition had a feeling of the past and had an authenticity. It has become an annual fixture that feels like folklore in the making.

The final part was a ‘battle‘ on the bridge that separates Wales from England where ‘all peace breaks out’ and much jollity takes place. By this time it was dark and the Mari’s were lit up by fairy lights. Magickal !

A wonderful day watching folklore in the making.

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