Dydd santes dwynwen hapus - Happy St Dwynwen’s Day

St Dwynwen's Church

St Dwynwen’s Day (Welsh: Dydd Santes Dwynwen) falls on 25th January every year. People all over Wales celebrate St Dwynwen's Day, the Welsh patron saint of lovers. St Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. Dwynwen - whose names translates to "she who leads a blessed life" - still enjoys great popularity throughout Wales, particularly in her home of Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn). Whilst the date is not widely known outside of Wales it has become increasingly popular in recent times. In Wales special events commemorating St Dwynwen’s day are held. Dydd santes dwynwen hapus (Happy St Dwynwen’s Day) to everyone celebrating on this special date.

It was said Dwynwen was the prettiest of Welsh King Brychan Brycheiniog's twenty-four daughters. Her father had arranged for her to marry, but she fell in love with another man; a prince named Maelon Dafodrill. Dwynwen knew she had to follow her father’s wishes and though it broke her heart prayed to God and asked for help to forget Maelon. She was visited by an angel as she slept who gave her a potion to erase her memory of feelings for Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

Celtic fish

God granted Dwynwen three wishes. Her first wish was that her beloved Maelon should be thawed, the second was that God should meet the needs of all lovers and her third wish was that she should never marry. In gratitude Dwynwen devoted her life to God and on the island of Lladdwyn (the name can be translated into English as "The church of St. Dwynwen"), off the coast of Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn) she set up a convent. To this day the remains of the church can still be seen on the island, along with Dwynwen's Well. In this well is said to live a sacred fish who can predict whether couples will have a successful relationship. When visiting and looking into the well if the fish is seen swimming around and lively then it is a sign of a faithful and devoted husband.

This ancient legend has ensured that the well has become a place of pilgrimage for young Welsh lovers ever since the death of Dwynwen in 465 AD. Fittingly, in this month of January the Welsh Books Council has also chosen the Welsh language Cariad Pur? (Pure love?) as its Book of the Month. The collection of short stories are based around the theme of love. A number of authors have contributed to the book including Llio Mai Hughes and Marlyn Samuel from Anglesey; Bethan Gwanas from Dolgellau; Guto Dafydd from Pwllheli and John Gruffydd Jones from Abergele. It is published by Caernarfon based publishers, Gwasg y Bwthyn,Lôn Ddewi,Caernarfon,Gwynedd, Wales LL55 1ER; Tel: 01286 672018; E-mail: gwasgybwthyn@btconnect.com.

Welsh Books Council www.cllc.org.uk.