Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Countdown, Traditions and Trivia Day Christmas Eve

Hello Friends!

Well, dear followers and friends, Christmas Day is almost here, just one more sleep as they say today. Tonight the stockings will be hung with care, and wee ones all over the world will find it hard to sleep tonight.  I remember when I was a child not being able to sleep at all, butterflies churning in my tummy all night long in eager anticipation that I'd been good and Father Christmas would call on me, leaving me a special present underneath the tree in the parlour and filling my stocking at the foot of my bed. I was up before dawn and stayed fully charged until bedtime on Christmas night!  After opening my stocking it was off to church for the 7:30 a.m Eucharist, then home for breakfast before the mayhem of opening presents commenced. Even back then there were always many books under the tree for me, and I'm pleased to say, I must have been a good girl back in those long gone days of my past, for I was never disappointed ~~~

So, here is the final door of the Advent calendar for 2016, it is the largest door and in the centre of the image too ~~~


~~~~~

For today's final traditions and trivia I will share with you the unique Welsh tradition of Plygain.  If you listen to the clips, below, you will hear how to pronounce it. My best interpretation is to say plug~ayne {but I'm not very good at phonetics}

Plygain is a chapel service that takes place in chapels across Wales in the wee small hours of Christmas Day between 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., starting before daybreak and finishing, symbolically, after the dawn has broken. People either get up very early or some don't go to bed at all ~ that would be a bit too much for me with all the catering and excitement of the day ahead and no sleep the night before, with no chance of a recharging nap during the day.

The word Plygain is believed to have it's root in the Latin word pullicantio, meaning 'when the cock crows at dawn'; it could also be derived from plygu, meaning to bend forward in prayer. The word is first recorded in the Black Book of Carmarthen in early Welsh manuscripts in the 13th century.

The traditions of Pygain vary regionally, for example:

  • In some rural areas the locals would gather in farmhouses to make a treacle toffee called cyflaith.
  • In Marford, they decorate the farmhouse with winter foliage such as holly or mistletoe.
  • In Dyffryn Clwyd, they light the candles at two o'clock in the morning and sang and danced to harp music until the dawn service.
  • In towns, or more populated areas, such as Tenby, crowds start the evening with a torch-lit procession, and the young men of the town would escort the local priest from his house to the church while the rest of the procession sang and blew cow-horns.
  • At the local chapel {I do not attend} one of the attending couples, very generously, invites the entire congregation back to their home where they serve up freshly cooked bacon baps {a special sort of bread roll} to the hungry people.

Until recently, Plygain candles were lit throughout the chapel during the service. Candles were decorated with coloured paper and hoops woven by local congregants.

Here is a clip from the BBC showing an old recording of Plygain with an interesting insight to the non~conformist viewpoint of such Christian feast days as Christmas and Easter.

This is a radio broadcast, about five minutes long, explaining Plygain and with excerpts from a service.

I hope you will be able to access them internationally for I know some of you will be eager to listen.
~~~~~

The last of the Yuletide Lads is Candler Stealer who is also known as Kertasníkir, Candle Snatcher or Candle Beggar.  He arrives tonight and takes his leave on January 6th.

In days of old candles were a very expensive commodity in Iceland and would have been strictly controlled in an Icelandic household. It would have been very uncommon for children to have been given one.  Around Christmas time, however, there is very little daylight in Iceland each day and children may have been given candles at that time. Candle Stealer would sneak around in the dark behind children with candles, waiting for his chance to steal them. At one time, candles would have been made from animal fats {tallow candles} and were edible, therefore Candle Stealer would quickly gobble them up!

Hunger seems to be a recurring theme with the Yuletide Lads and I wonder if this reflects the paucity of food and desperately hard living conditions faced by the settlers in Iceland?

So, this finishes the Advent Calendar, my accounts of traditions and trivia, and rounds up the last of the Yuletide Lads for another year. Tonight the frolics and japes will be many in the homesteads and villages across Iceland as all the Lads are present, but tomorrow evening they start their return, day by day, in the order in which they arrived back to their mountain home for another year.

~~~~~
I hope you have enjoyed the last month as much as I have exploring just a small handful of traditions and trivia, even some of the darker side too. My heartfelt thanks to those of you who have taken time each day to leave a comment. They are precious and mean so much to me.  So, all that remains is for me to say ~~~
Nadolig Llawen!
Wishing You a Very Happy Christmas

I hope your Christmas is jolly, full of family and friends, and I wish for yours to be full joy, peace, and hope.

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xoxo

12 comments:

  1. Happy Christmas and New Year - are we going to be treated to New Year traditions next?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sue. Hahaha! Can I please have a break? Committing to this has taken more time than I first thought. At least the Welsh New Year traditions don't happen until mid~January by the current calendar.

      Delete
  2. Thanks to your Icelandic posts I was able to shout out the answer to a question on QI the other night!
    Happy Christmas

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to be of use! I often found Star Trek to be a good source of information for quizzes too.
      Nadolig Llawen!

      Delete
  3. Deb, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about these traditions you have shared. I have shared them with my family and we all found them quite unique and interesting. Even the scary ones! Merry Christmas, my friend! Have a wonderful day! xoxo ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Martha Ellen. I'm pleased you've enjoyed the month ~ even the scary ones; it wouldn't be a balanced view leaving them out because they are scary though.
      Nadolig Llawen to You and Yours! Hope your day is full of family togetherness and peaceful joy ~~~Deb xoxo

      Delete
  4. Thanks for all your hard work putting this together. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. More than I wanted about those Trolls. lol

    Well done, my Friend. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Love and hugs, Darlene

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you my Dear Friend! I'm happy you enjoyed it all, and I do wonder what people were thinking when some of these traditions evolved.

      Nadolig Llawen to You and Yours! Have a wonderful day of family togetherness and sending you wishes for peace and joy. ~~~Deb xoxo

      Delete
  5. Nadolig Llawen to you and yours, Deb! I've not kept up with my blog reading during the season, so heading in now to see the days I've missed. Really enjoy learning so much about the Welsh customs and traditions! Wishing you a day of special peace and joy and a very fine New Year! jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jen. Not only Welsh customs, a few others too, and the Icelandic Yuletude Lads! Happy Boxing Day!
      ~~~Deb

      Delete
  6. It sounds delightful..especially the bacon sandwiches! Merry Christmas, Deb, and blessings to you and yours in the week and year to come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you ~ yes, a bacon bap must be a fine way to start Christmas morning after a long service of worship.
      ~~~Deb

      Delete

Thank you for stopping by today ~ I love reading your comments