[Northkeep] Christmas custom in Wales

willowdewisp at juno.com willowdewisp at juno.com
Wed Dec 2 14:11:56 PST 2009

With a Welsh king this Christmas season we might want to honor him with Welsh custom on our tables at Yule and Christmas and 12 night celebration/=
Here is an interesting one.
In the 3rd and 4th centuries, christianised Romans colonised Britain as they came with the legions of soldiers, as part of the government of Britain. They brought with them many customs from Italy and the Mediterranean. One of these was the giving of Olive Branches as a New Year Peace gift. The original branches always came from the sacred groves of the Roman goddess, Strenia. To give one was a wish for peace and prosperity for the coming year, and a way of saying sorry if you had an old argument or had wronged someone. From this we get the phrase 'To offer an Olive Branch' when we want to say sorry with a gift of some kind. As Christianity spread its influence, the reason behind the custom was lost, other than it was a symbol of good luck. In areas of Britain, along the English & Welsh Borders, in areas which were settled by the Romans, the Calenigg is still given between Christmas and New Year. This is an apple, with three twig legs. It is stuck with almonds, and a small spray of evergreens are stuck into the top around the stalk. Now it is children who carry the gift around, singing their carol, and getting a few small cakes or pennies in return for their 'lucky Calenigg'. Householders put them in their windows, or on a shelf, and sometimes they shrivel but last all year. The 'luck' lasts as long as the Calenigg lasts. Make a Calenigg:
You will need a hard apple, three strong sticks about 4" long. three sprigs of small leafed evergreen. Several split almonds. Pierce small slits in the flesh of the apple, just enough to slip the almonds into firmly. Put these all around, so the apple looks spiky all over. Make three slits for the three sticks at the base of the apple, so that it will stand on its stick legs (like a three legged stool!) Force a small candle (Christmastree size) into the top of the apple, tie a piece of baby ribbon in a nice bright colour such as red, into a bow around base of the candle. Then stick the three branches of evergreen into the top of the apple around the candle. With a paintbrush, brush the almonds almonds with bitter almond oil or essence. And there you have a Christmas decoration dating from the 4th century Roman Britain. See also 'A Christmas in Wales' 
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