In my last blog, only a few days ago, I reported on how those of us lucky enough to live in North Pembrokeshire were able to celebrate New Year for a second time. Today I write about the ancient tradition of celebrating St Dwynwen’s day on the 25th of January, a Welsh version of St Valentine’s day. So that’s two romantic annual events on which you can surprise your loved one.
The big question is how do you surprise your loved one with gifts when like Mr Foxy Pheasant you are already blessed with the most amazing partner in your life! What more could a man want? ….more tractors, more shed time? I thought I would get that in, just in case he is reading and expecting something amazing from me today. I mean, after 10 years, a houseful of kids, busy work commitments and farm life, who can be faffed with making the effort for one romantic night of the year, let alone two?
However, if you are not a grumpy old bird like me, you could always surprise your loved one with a card from our friends Ruffled Feathers co , beautiful flowers by farming florist Sheep shed Design or create your own romantic dinner at home (Let’s eat wild have some great menu suggestions). Maybe just meeting your lover on an empty beach to run to greet each other in super slow motion is more of your style? If you’re stuck for ideas of beautiful locations to visit here in Wales, Igerscymru is the perfect place see Wales presented in a stunning collection of photographs.
Wales, with its historic traditions, is such a beautiful country of which I am blessed to now call my home. In an ideal world, I would celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen by booking our very own Mary Poppins to hold the fort at home, then head to one of the fabulous local restaurants. Wrights Food Emporium near Llandellio is always at the top of my list, followed by a walk round the historic town of Llandeilo, with the stunning Dinefawr Castle and Newton House nearby. If after all that, an over night stay is needed, why not book a stay at The Cowdor Hotel in the centre of Llandeilo? If you don’t have a babysitter, you could always take the kids and have a very different experience!
But why the fuss, what events elevated Dwynwen to that of Sainthood and her story still being celebrated today………
Dwynwen was a fifth century Princess who lived in the Brecon Beacons and was unlucky in love. She was the prettiest of King Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters and fell in love with local boy Maelon. However, the King had plans for Dwynwen to marry someone else which left her heartbroken. Dwynwen could not marry her true love! In desperation, Dwynwen took to the woods where she begged God to help her. She was visited by an angel who gave her a potion to help her forget about Maelon, but the potion did not work and instead it turned her lover to ice…….. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuh. God then gave her three wishes….. Dwynwen’s fisrt wish was that her lover be thawed, her second that God help all true lovers and thirdly that she would never had to marry. In gratitude to God and his fulfilment of her wishes (that worked this time!) she became a nun, building her own convent on Llanddwyn Island on Anglesey.
For the ultimate St Dwynwen outing you could venture to Anglesey and make a pilgrimage to St Dwynwen’s Church at Llanddwyn Island. You’ll find Llanddwyn Island (actually a headland cut off during extra high tides) on the southwest corner of Anglesey, beyond the village of Newborough. Llanddwyn’s beach has blue flag status and the whole area is a nature reserve. Visitors are presented with stunning views across the Menai Strait and over the mountainous North Wales.
The island is home to the ruins of St Dwynwen’s Church, built on the site of the convent she founded there in the 5th century and according to local legend the place of her burial. Also on the Island is Dwynwen’s Well, legend has it the well was home to sacred eels that could predict if your relationship was to be a success. According to one source, on visiting the Well, if the Eels were visibly active then you have a faithful husband! It did not disclose what you had if the Eels were not active but I’m guessing said husbands would have had some explaining to do!
And so this is the story of why Wales adds its own event to the calendar, for celebration by all you hopelessly romantic Welsh folk. But you don’t have to be Welsh to join in the romance of the occasion, how wonderful if you were to surprise your loved one with a special St Dwynwen’s Day treat. After all, an old saying attributed to St Dwynwen is:
“Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness”
So, if she did indeed suffer the broken heart that her legend depicts, what better way to celebrate her courageous character than to hold your partner close, and let them know that they are loved.
If you would like to read more about St Dwynwen please see the links below.