St. Dwynwen’s Day: Welsh Valentine's Day

È l’equivalente di San Valentino per il popolo gallese, una giornata speciale in cui si celebra la santa patrona degli innamorati con attività romantiche e dichiarazioni d’amore. Eppure St. Dwynwen non fu affatto fortunata in amore...

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Sarah Davison

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A Celtic cross and St. Dwynwen’s Church ruins on Ynys Llanddwyn island.

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The 25th of January is the most romantic day of the year in Wales. On this day, St. Dwynwen is celebrated. She is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Dydd Santes Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day.  

So who was St. Dwynwen? Welsh history is often based on songs and stories passed on by word of mouth. St. Dwynwen’s tale is likely mixed up with folklore. However, it is generally known that she was a fourth-century princess, who was unlucky in love. She became a nun and prayed for others to have better luck.

St. DWYNWEN’S HISTORY

Legend has it that Dwynwen, was the prettiest of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s twenty-four daughters. She fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, a handsome village boy. Her father had already arranged her marriage to a prince and forbade her to see him. Heartbroken, she prayed to God for help. An angel gave her a magic potion to help her forget Maelon but, instead, it turned him into a block of ice.

When God realised his mistake, he gave her three wishes. She wished for Maelon to be thawed; for true lovers to be happy; and never to marry herself. Her wishes were granted and, in gratitude, she dedicated her life to the Church. Dwynwen founded a convent on Llanddwyn Island, where she prayed for lovers for the rest of her life.

After her death, her church became a pilgrimage site. Many people visited the convent for the famed St. Dwynwen’s well, in which a sacred fish was thought to live. Couples could go there to predict the success of their relationship. If the fish was lively, the man would be faithful. The ruins of the convent and its well can still be visited today.

St. DWYNWEN’S REVIVAL

St. Dwynwen’s Day has seen a revival in recent years. There are many ways to celebrate St. Dwynwen’s Day. Couples go for long walks, have romantic dinners or exchange cards and gifts. The traditional gift is a love spoon, carved with hearts and Celtic crosses. Love-themed events are held around Wales, such as love spoon crafting, speed dating and love poem writing workshops. Even now, lovers visit the old church on 25th January, some to propose. It is the perfect place to say “Rwy’n dy garu di.”

HOW TO SAY “I LOVE YOU” IN WELSH

According to a survey –not sure how reliable– Welsh people are the fastest to say ‘I love you’ among in the UK. Here’s how to say it: “Rwy’n dy garu di” (pronounced: ruin-duh-garry-dee).

  • Rwy’n = I am
  • dy = your
  • garu = love
  • di = you
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