Chepstow to host ancient New Year celebration

9:33pm Wednesday 8th January 2014

THE annual coming together of two ancient Welsh and English traditions will take place in Chepstow later this month.

The Chepstow Wassail and Mari Lwyd brings together the Welsh winter tradition of the Mari Lwyd and the mainly English custom of wassailing, in a meeting on the town's historic Wye Bridge.

Around 300 people braved freezing temperatures and difficult travelling conditions to attend the event last year, and organisers are hoping the weather improves in time for this year's celebrations, on Saturday January 18.

The Mari-Lwyd is a centuries-old Welsh winter first footing tradition involving a decorated, shrouded horse skull which is carried from house to house or pub by performers seeking entry for food and drink by entertaining with songs, rhymes and riddles.

Wassailing is a tradition of blessing apple trees and asking for a good harvest, involving cider and food offerings, and the warding off of evil spirits.

Each custom involves singing and dancing, and the Chepstow event is a celebration of both, befitting the town's border location.

The event is hosted by Chepstow-based border morris dancing group The Widders, and festivities will begin at 2pm at the Castle and Three Tuns pubs, on Bridge Street.

Wassails and Mari Lwyds will be held at various locations in the town through the afternoon, and into the evening, before and after the centrepiece meeting on the bridge English and the Welsh customs at 6.30pm.

The event is free and full details can be had by visiting www.chepstowwassailmari.co.uk

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