Here are the Welsh Easter traditions you need to know about
‘egg clapping’ is a thing apparently
Falling as it does in spring, Easter brings along sunshine, daffodils and charming traditions. But did you know that Wales has its own traditional and wacky customs to celebrate this holiday?
Well, it does – and they’re all things fun, strange and festive! So, we thought we’d share some of them to get you into an early Easter holidays mood.
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence
Good Friday, or Y Groglith in Welsh is colloquially known as the Friday before Easter. In Wales, it is recognised as the ‘Dydd Gwener y Groglith‘, literally translated as the ‘Friday of the Cross Reading’. It is well documented that no one works on Good Friday and, for some, it is one of the obligatory days of fasting and abstinence. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one whole meal, and two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The traditional meal of choice is fish.
In Tenby, a seaside town in southwest Wales, people are known to walk barefoot to Church on this day. The streets are kept clear for the whole day, with no horses or carts and very few people so as to not disturb the Earth – the burial ground of Christ.
The custom of making Christ’s bed is also quite popular, especially amongst local children. They gather river reeds, weave them into a Christ figure, fix it on a wooden cross, and then leave it in a quiet field or pasture to rest peacefully. Sure sounds like a fun and peaceful Friday, right?
Palm Sunday is for fig pudding and new clothes
Sul y Blodau, or Palm Sunday, is the Sunday before Easter. It literally translates to the ‘Sunday of Flowers’ and is seen as the time to welcome spring after the long winter. Fig dishes such as fig pudding are commonly served on this day because of its association with the flowering of the fig tree. Other popular dishes include split pea soup and pax cakes.
In Wales, it also custom to wear new clothes as a preparation for Easter and after the drabness of winter and solemnity of Lent. Traditionally, people tidy, clean, whitewash, and weed the graves of loved ones. They also decorate them with fanciful floral arrangements of rosemary, rue, crocuses, daffodils and primroses in the churchyards. The Welsh certainly have abundant traditions for feasts and celebrations across Easter weekend!
You take a trek up the nearest mountain on Easter Monday
Wales is known for it’s beautiful landscapes and the wonderful views from atop them. All across the country on Easter Monday (known in Welsh as Llyn y Pasg) people take part in a procession: a pre-dawn trek up to the very top of the nearest mountain or hill to watch the sunrise, and celebrate the resurrection of Christ by seeing the first light of the day. In some areas, people take a bowl of water with them to see the reflection of the sun dancing at daybreak.
The people of Llangollen in Denbighshire, a county in northeast Wales, have been known to perform three somersaults on the apex of Dinas Bran – a prominent hilltop famous for its inclusion in many medieval Welsh folk tales. This fell out of custom some time ago, but is slowly making a comeback amongst young people.
Eastertide in Wales 🐥
"I recall the inhabitants of Llangollen, Denbighshire, ascending Dinas Bran on Easter Day to greet the rising of the sun with three somersaults." https://t.co/f8wxHIwCzN#Wales #History pic.twitter.com/gGbTXhhgdH
— Louvain Rees 🕯 (@hellohistoria) March 25, 2018
The Welsh prefer an Egg Clap to a hunt
Another popular tradition, particularly in Anglesey in North-West Wales, is the practice of going egg-clapping. The Welsh term for this custom is ‘Clapio Wyau’. During the 19th Century, they would collect hen eggs from generous farmers to fill the family pantry for the Easter celebrations. However, kids these days prefer to collect chocolate eggs. They visit kind villagers around local farms such as Carreglefn, Brynsiencyn, Llynfaes, Talwrn and Llannerchymedd to ‘clap for eggs’ using a wooden instrument and singing a customary Welsh rhyme similar to this one:
Clap, clap, os gwelwch chi’n dda ga’i wŷ
(Clap, clap, please may I have an egg)
Geneth fychan [neu fachgen bychan] ar y plwy’
(Young girl [or young boy] on the parish)
This page from the Llanfairynghornwy School Log Book of 1915 contains a reference to the north Walian rural custom of clepian wyau (clapping for eggs) at Easter. During the week before Easter, local children visited homes begging for eggs ⬇️https://t.co/AquARmYARq#yagym pic.twitter.com/DZ997u8YUA
— People's Collection Wales (@pplscollection) April 12, 2020
What do Cardiff’s Welsh students do for Easter?
We reached out to the Welsh students living in Cardiff, asking for their Easter traditions. One student told The Cardiff Tab that making Welsh cakes was an Easter tradition in their household. Another student went for the less historic tradition, telling the Cardiff Tab, “eat a ton of chocolate, usually from the grandparents”. Classic. Other students told us that an Easter egg hunt was a vital part of their traditions.
We hope these Welsh Easter weekend traditions inspire your holiday celebrations this year. After all, it’s exciting to add sparkle to the festivities every now and then, especially when you have so many different customs to choose from. So, here’s wishing you a fun, relaxing and blessed holiday. Happy Easter! Pasg Hapus!