25th January 2021
Saint Dwynwen is Wales’ very own patron saint of love, and St Dwynwen’s Day is on January 25th. The day is a unique way for people in Wales to tell the ones we love exactly how we feel about them. It’s celebrated by exchanging cards and gifts, spending time together, going for a meal or taking long walks. It’s also a day when traditionally lovers could give the typical Welsh lovespoon as gifts.
Dwynwen lived in the fifth century and like so many popular old tales there are several versions of her story. It is said that Dwynwen was the daughter of a Welsh king called Brychan Brycheiniog and came from Brecon. (Source: BBC Wales)
Dwynwen fell in love with Maelon, the son of another king. They wanted to get married but her father had other ideas. Brychan Brycheiniog had already arranged for Dwynwen to marry someone else. Dwynwen ran to the forest, distraught, and prayed to God to release her from love. An angel came to visit her and gave her a potion to make her forget about Maelon and to turn him to ice. After this, God appeared to her and gave her three wishes.
First, Dwynwen wished that Maelon was thawed.
Secondly, she wished that God would help all true lovers.
Finally, she wished that she would never be married.
After the wishes were granted Dwynwen became a nun and established a convent on an island. The island, Ynys Llanddwyn, is just off the coast of Anglesey. ‘Ynys’ means island in Welsh, ‘Llan’ means ‘church’ and ‘dwyn’ comes from the name ‘Dwynwen’.
According to the story, there was a fish, who lived in a well near the church, that could predict the future of couples. If a couple went there and the water bubbled then the couple would have good luck. As a result, the church and well became a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.
The ruins of the convent can still be seen on the island.
Art by @marcturian, based on original artwork by Tracy L. Christianson
Wales has its own magical places and stories. And our Academy is no exception. A lot of love stories started in our classrooms, when people from different parts of the world met.
From opposite ends of the continent, Rinat from Russia and Maria from Italy, met here in Cardiff whilst both studying at Celtic English Academy. Within no time the couple became more than just friends and were inseparable throughout the remainder of their studies. Today they are husband and wife, enjoying life together in Italy.
Everything happened here: first dates, shared journeys, the first ice skating, and brave culinary experiments mixing Italian, Russian, Welsh and English cuisines, and even the wedding proposal on top of the old Castle, with the Red Dragon as the only witness, in the centre of Cardiff.
Did you have your own Celtic love story?
Why not say ‘dwi’n dy garu di’ instead of ‘I love you’ to that special person today?
Cover Image art by Tracy L. Christianson
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