The UK is a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions. Whilst appearing similar on the surface, each of the four countries are so diverse both in the languages spoken and the food that’s eaten. I come from a small town in Wales and as such have a strong sense of pride for my country. One of the stranger and more interesting traditions is the ‘Mari Lwyd’ in Welsh, or the ‘Grey Mare’ in English.
The Mari Lwyd is a midwinter tradition and can take place any time in December through to January. The Mari Lwyd is a horse’s skull. It’s draped in white and attached to a long pole. Sometimes the skull is painted and decorated with coloured ribbons and bells. The Mari Lwyd goes around the town and tries to bite innocent villagers. If you are bitten you have to pay a fine but today it’s just for fun! I love the evening; everyone comes out and follows the horse’s skull as it makes its way through the town singing at each door, usually stopping at various pubs and trying to gain entry, food and drink.
There’s traditional music and dancing. Sometimes there are Morris dancers who paint their faces black and wear colourful ribbons to disguise themselves. Many of the children are dressed in national dress. It really brings everyone together and you feel such a great sense of community!
Although one of the oldest traditions in Wales, it nearly died out! Luckily today, there has been a surge in popularity with many Welsh towns breathing life again to these old-age customs.
Has your country got any unusual traditions?