When it comes to beautiful countryside and scenery, you can’t help but think of the stunning country that is Wales.
Wales is not only home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the UK (I’m looking at you Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons) but it is also home to some truly delicious food and incredibly friendly and hospitable locals.
Wales is a stunning part of the world that is shrouded in ancient history, culture, and traditions which go back thousands of years, which is what I want to talk to you about today. If you’re planning your next vacation, or staycation for that matter, Wales is perfect, especially when you learn more about the ancient traditions and the history behind them.
To help you understand more about this stunning part of the world, here’s a look at se7en of the most interesting traditions from Wales.
Celebrating beating the English at rugby
Rugby is a pretty popular sport all over the globe, though in the UK it is often overshadowed by football (soccer for my overseas friends). In Wales, however, rugby is the national sport and has been a part of Welsh heritage for centuries.
If you want the ultimate party atmosphere, just be sure to visit Wales when they defeat the English in a game of rugby.
The English, traditionally, tend to fare better against the Welsh in other sports, but not the rugby, and as a result, it’s a great way for the Welsh to get one over on the English.
There’s certainly no love lost between England and Wales, and when the two meet in the rugby, it’s very special. Whenever the Welsh is triumphant, the moment becomes even more magical and the entire country rejoices.
In Wales, if you really want to show a woman what she means to you, you’ll give her a spoon, and I don’t mean the kind where you cuddle up in bed.
Traditionally, young Welsh men would take a piece of wood and would carve an intricate design into it, usually something resembling a love heart before turning it into a wooden spoon. They would then present the spoon to the woman they had their eye on. This wasn’t just to show them how much they cared, it was also to prove to the women and their fathers just how skilled they were with their hands.
If you visit Wales today, you’ll find love spoons for sale in a variety of gift shops and crafts shops, though those who are skilful enough still make these spoons for the women they like to this day.
That certainly beats a right swipe on a dating app, I’m sure you’ll agree?
Up next, I present to you The Eisteddfod.
This is a traditional Welsh festival dating back many years, celebrating literature, dance, art, theatre, and music.
For those with a keen interest in art and culture, the Eisteddfod is one of the most significant events in the cultural arts calendar.
Here, various contests are held in numerous different disciplines, such as creative writing, or poetry, and those fortunate enough to win an award are truly blessed as this is a huge honour in Welsh culture.
The first Eisteddfod was held way back in 1176, as a way of celebrating the country’s prowess for music, theatre, and all things creative, and to this day, the festival is bigger than ever.
Okay, before I go any further, I would just like to point out that Welsh RAREBIT is in no way, shape, or form, a dish containing or made from rabbit. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s learn more about this delicious Welsh snack food.
Welsh Rarebit is basically just cheese on toast, but it is a thousand times nicer than you could ever imagine.
The dish is usually made from a savoury sauce mixture usually made from melted cheese, beer, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and other ingredients which are poured over toasty crusty bread.
Since the 1500s, the Welsh would enjoy this dish as it was a simple and cheap dish to make that offered calories, energy, and taste.
The name ‘Rarebit’ is believed to come from ‘Welsh Rabbit’ which was thought to be a joke name, likely thought up by the English to mock the simplicity of the dish and try to make it sound posh and fancy.
The joke is on them, though, because Welsh Rarebit is one of the tastiest comfort foods you could ever imagine and is a staple part of Welsh tradition.
Embracing the rain
Head to mainland Britain or a warmer Mediterranean country for that matter, and as soon as the rain makes an appearance, you’ll notice people scurrying for cover, writing off their entire days until the wet weather subsides.
Head to Wales, though, and rain is virtually a part of everyday life. Wales has its own microclimate whereby it rains on a near-daily basis.
Because it rains so frequently in Wales, the Welsh simply go about their day as usual, regardless of whether or not the heavens have opened.
The Welsh never let the wet weather dampen their spirits, and in my book, that’s something we could all learn from.
The red dragon
The national symbol of Wales is a red dragon that sits proudly upon the national flag consisting of a green bottom half and a white top half, overlapped by a red dragon. But why a dragon?
Well, the red dragon came about thanks to the Legend of King Arthur, whereby Merlin had a vision of a red dragon signifying the Welsh, fighting a white dragon which signified the Saxons.
The red dragon was the victor and the Saxon invaders fled the country.
Leeks are the national vegetable of Wales, and if you want a truly tasty comforting dish, be sure to tuck into a bowl of Welsh lamb and leek cawl stew, served with plenty of buttered crusty bread.
The reason why leeks are believed to be the national vegetable of Wales is due to the fact that, before soldiers wore uniforms, the 7th-century king of Gwynedd, Cadwaladr, ordered his soldiers to wear leeks upon their clothing, to distinguish them from the enemy.
Basically, if you were a soldier and saw somebody advancing upon you with a leek pinned to himself, you’d know he was friend, rather than foe.
Now that you know more about Wales and it’s fascinating traditions, I hope I have convinced you to visit! Which custom did you find the most interesting?
Until next time stay safe, stay curious and don’t stop wandering!