St Dwynwen’s Day – Welsh Valentine’s Day

So, the Welsh know a little thing or two about love, we have our own special hug, a cwtch, and our very own Valentine’s Day. Dydd Santes Dwynwen | St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated every year on 25th January.  Why wait until February when you can wish your partner ‘dwi’n dy garu di’ (I love you) a few weeks earlier?


Who was St Dwynwen?

The St Dwynwen’s Day story is a sad one.  The Welsh patron saint of lovers lived during the 4th Century, and legend has it that she was very pretty and was the most attractive out of her 23 other sisters.  Her father, King Brychan, had arranged for her to marry a prince, but she fell in love with a local called Maelon Dafodrill.  She was so upset that she could not marry her beloved she ran into the woods to weep and begged God to make her forget him.  Once asleep she was visited by an angel who carried a potion designed to erase her memory and turn Maelon into a block of ice.

God then gave Dwynwen three wishes.  She wished for Maelon to be thawed, her second wish was that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers and the third that she should never marry.  All three were granted and to mark her thanks Dwynwen devoted herself to God.  It is said that Dwynwen became a nun and founded a convent in Llanddwyn island a beautiful spot in west Anglesey.  A well at the site became a place of pilgrimage, and it was believed that the fish that lived in there could foretell if their relationship would be happy.  The remains of the castle are still visited to this day.

Courtesy of Visit Wales

Anyone can cuddle, but only the Welsh can cwtch!

Cwtch, what does it mean?  The word cwtch is the closest thing to the English equivalents of ‘cuddle’, ‘snuggle’ and ‘hug’.  However, it has a deeper meaning for the Welsh.  Traditionally the cwtch was a cupboard or cubbyhole where the coal was stored.  It was a private, concealed, safe place – which could also be a respected connection or in two people’s hearts.  It is one of the nation’s favourite words and symbolises that warm feeling that only closeness can create.

A cwtch is not just for your significant other, you can cwtch with your friends, family or even your pets – we’re not picky!  To me, cwtch is the best word ever!

How to celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day?

Should I expect to be lavished with romantic gifts?  Yeah right!  I have to remind him to buy me a Valentine’s Day card.  He thinks it is a stupid holiday which has been ‘made up’ to make us spend money.  Which means not only is he unromantic, he is tight too!  To be honest, I do not expect him to spend a fortune on me, but I do like a token of acknowledgment.  I am sure one day he will surprise me… I do not have high hopes though!

St Dwynwen’s Day celebrations can be done to your style as there are no St Dwynwen’s Day traditions.  It could be a card to say how much your partner means to you, a box of chocolates, a romantic meal for two or even a day trip or night away.  The choice is yours!

Happy St Dwynwen’s Day Welsh translation is Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus!

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