Mari Lwyd & Wassail at Chepstow 2018

This weekend was the Wassail & Mari Lwyd in Chepstow. Saturday night saw the LARGEST gathering of Mari Lwyds in history. What’s a Mari Lwyd?

Illustration 2011, Chelsea Hopkins, Ink on Bristol Board

An ancient Welsh tradition, mostly southern and rural, wherein a horse’s head or skull is paraded around with a group. Its halfway between Trick or Treating and Carolling. The group (with Mari) approaches a door of a home and requests to come inside with riddle & verse.

Here we come
Dear friends
To ask permissions to sing

If we don’t have permission,
Let us know in song
How we should go away tonight

In Chepstow, a Welsh/English border town, this tradition has merged with Wassailing. An event where an apple tree is sung to in order to awaken it ready for the growing season. This is to help us have a good harvest! Synonymous with cider, morris dancing and general chaos.

The English side of the river prepare with a wassail, the Welsh side have their own wassail, and after much singing and shouting…. meet in the middle of the Old Iron Bridge for a good old morris dance off.

Everyone then goes over to the Welsh side to perform Pwnco (the Mari Riddle & Song ceremony) at the museum and generally meet and have fun with the performers of the night. Nobody is ‘freaked out’ by the Maris – children are delighted and want to stroke them!

Its a fantastic event and has to be one of my all-time favourite local traditions.

www.chepstowwassailmari.co.uk

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