The Chepstow Wassail Mari Lwyd

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Crowds of people braved the poor winter weather conditions to watch this years Chepstow Wassail Mari Lwyd.

The Chepstow Wassail Mari Lwyd is a popular annual event and it combines the mainly English tradition of Wassailing,  a traditional New Year’s celebration  and the celebrating of the Welsh midwinter Mari Lwyd tradition, plus a unique social meeting of the English and Welsh on the Welsh/English border (The river Wye bridge). The festival acknowledged the changing of the seasons, using a ceremonial horse skull as a symbol of death and rebirth.

Monika Kudaseva, 24, from Newport (originally from Lithuania) is photographed with the Green Man, Steward Dyer from Gloucester, a member of the  Widders.

IMG_3389There was also Morris dancing and a Country Dance Ceilidh. The event was hosted by The Widders Welsh Border Morris, the local team and supported by Monmouthshire County Council, Chepstow Town Council, Chepstow Acoustic Music Club, Glosfolk and the good people of Chepstow and abroad.

Heb Enw Morris are photographed: (Back row. L to R)  John Smith, Caroline Yates, Johnathan Parker, Melanie Corp. (Front row. L to R) Bryan Jones, George Causley, Taran Parker, Sheila Furniss, Holly Robinson and John Tose. Heb Enw Morris are based on the Carmarthenshire / Pembrokeshire border, drawing members from both counties.

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Monika Kudaseva (middle) trying on the costume and learning more about the tradition of Morris Dancing from Margret Payne and Victoria Jones. Monika said: ‘It was a colorful fun event with music and dancing from many different groups. There is a lot to learn about local history and traditional customs and being a visitor to the United Kingdom I am eager to learn all about its diversity.’

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Cliff Strover photographed with the Pontypool Mast hobby horse. The Mari is a person disguised as a horse who goes from house to house singing in an attempt to bring people living there good luck. The tradition of the Wassailing involves the blessing of an apple tree in the hope of a good harvests.

One of the event organizers Mick Lewis said that the event was a huge success and: “There was around 700 spectators and we had eleven Mari Lwyds.”

There were two teams from England, these being the Silhill Morris from Solihull and the Styx of Stroud.

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