Mari Lwyd (Y Fari Lwyd), also known as Gray Mary, is a Welsh Midwinter tradition which stretches from Christmas until late January. Originally practised throughout Wales, the tradition is now mostly celebrated in the South after it received much criticism from the Church due to its Pagan roots. Mari Lwyd arrives to drive out the darkness of winter.
The tradition of Mari Lwyd involves a group of people accompanying someone dressed as a dead horse to various houses and pubs. When someone opens the door, the horse and crew start singing. There is then an exchange of witty rhymes between the group and the household. If the Mari Lwyd crew “wins” the exchange then they are welcomed into the house. Having Mari Lwyd in your house also brings good luck.
Once inside, Mari will cause mischief; running around, snapping her jaws and frightening children until she is restrained by the leader of the group. The group will play music and gifts/ treats are sometimes exchanged.
Watch Mari in action:
When: December 23rd, 2012
- How to celebrate New Year in Wales?, Wales (visitwales.co.uk)