St Dwynwen’s Day: Everything you need to know about the woman who helped the heartbroken

She devoted her life to helping the heartbroken

The exact history of Dwynwen has been changed so often that there are now many different versions of her life, but the most accepted version goes like this:

In the fifth-century Dwynwen was the daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog and according to some she was one of twenty-four daughters. And you think your family is chaotic.

Dwynwen was considered to be the most beautiful of Brychan’s daughters, how’s that for sibling rivalry? Many men were in love with her, including a northern Prince Maelon Dyfodrill – though he is sometimes a local boy in some versions. Dwynwen returned Maelon’s feelings and they were determined to marry. But Brychan Brycheiniog disliked Maelon and as he had already organised Dwynwen’s engagement to another Prince, he refused to give his consent to their marriage.

Distraught, Dwynwen flees to a wood and is followed by an angry Maelon, who ends up losing his temper because she won’t disobey her father. In her upset, she prays to God asking that she falls out of love with Maelon and, in turn, God freezes Maelon into a block of ice. A girl can dream!

Dwynwen is then visited by an angel who grants her three wishes. Firstly, Dwynwen wishes to thaw Maelon and to fall out of love with him, the angel grants this and he disappears. Secondly, she wishes never to marry, the angel grants this. Thirdly, she wishes to help all of those who were heartbroken and for the remainder of her life, she was devoted to helping those who were in pain because of love.

Spending the rest of her days spreading the word of God, she settled as a nun on a little island near Anglesey called Llanddwyn, after her. For years, heartbroken women came from all over to visit her. Even after her death, lovers visited Llanddwyn  – believing that the sacred eels and fish in the well could foresee the fate of a relationship.

These days, Dydd Santes Dwynwen – or St Dwynwen’s day – is celebrated like Valentine’s Day. Gifts and cards are exchanged and romantic dinners are held. Love spoons are often bought, traditionally carved by hand and gifted, but you’re forgiven for just buying yours!

Dydd Santes Dwynwen hapus, a pob lwc mewn cariad.

Happy St Dwynwen’s day, and good luck in love.

Related stories recommended by this writer

Cardiff students on Capitol Hill: What do they have to say about the riots?

We spoke with Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams: Here’s what we know

What does the Cathays street you live on say about you?