Children’s Stories – Welsh Culture for kids

The Golden Harp

 

 

Once there was a man named Morgan who lived on the edge of the rocky Welsh coast. Above everything else he loved singing and playing instruments, though he was quite awful at it. Everyone from his wife to his priest asked him to stop making such awful rackets. His voice was off-key, his chords were never right, and it gave everyone a terrible headache. But Morgan kept on playing. He dreamed that one day he would be the best musician in all of Wales.

One day a travelling bard came to his village. As the bard began play his harp in the most beautiful way he was distract by an awful noise. It was, of course, Morgan trying to sing a ballad. The bard scoffed at Morgan, telling him he should never play again. Everyone laughed at the bard’s jabs and Morgan stormed off to his home.

Later that night Morgan heard a gentle knock on the door. “Who is there?” he asked.

A weak voice replied. “We are three humble travellers looking for a bit of food and a place to sleep tonight. Is there any chance you can help us, fine gentleman?”

Morgan rushed over to the door and pulled it open, seeing three elderly men wrapped in worn clothing. “But of course! There is plenty of stew for everyone and great portions of bread and cheese as well. I haven’t much of a home but you are welcome to share what I have! Stay no more out in the cold. Let no man say I’m not a hospitable man!”

Morgan and the travellers spent the night together telling tales and enjoying a hearty meal. The next morning the travellers revealed a secret. They were not ordinary men but fairies in disguise! They threw off their worn robes to reveal their true forms. Morgan gasped. “What a sight!” he exclaimed.

The fairies offered Morgan anything he desired in return for his hospitality. He thought for a moment. He remembered how lovely the bard’s harp was and wished he could have a nice harp to call his own. “Is that all you truly desire, Morgan?” one of the fairies asked.

“Oh yes,” he responded, “I want nothing more in the world than to play beautiful music.” And so his wish was granted. The fairies produced a beautiful golden harp before vanishing into thin air. Morgan was astounded and carefully approached the harp. As soon as his fingers touched the strings it began to play the most beautiful tunes. All he had to do was touch it and the most wonderful songs would play.

Morgan took the harp around the village. The songs were so infectious that soon even the stuffiest old women were dancing in the streets. When Morgan saw the bard’s astonished face he got a wicked idea. Just like everyone else the bard began to dance and Morgan decided to get his revenge. He played the harp faster and faster and the bard danced faster in turn. No matter how hard he tried the bard found he could not stop his legs from dancing to Morgan’s tunes. Soon he danced so quickly his legs broke beneath him.

The fairies reappeared out the air and admonished Morgan for what he had done. Morgan apologized, realizing his sin, but it was too late. The fairies realized he was not fit for such an amazing gift and spirited away the harp, never to be seen again.

Welsh Tourist Destinations – Welsh Culture for kids

 

 

Wales is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, magnificent castles, and rich cultural history. One of the most common places to visit is Beaumaris Castle, a beautiful castle on the shore at Anglesey Island. Built by Edward I in the 13th century, it is one of the most preserved and largest castles of that period that still stands today. The castle is open for exploration and there are also guided tours available to explain the castle’s magnificent history. Tourists will enjoy not only seeing a true medieval castle, but exploring the picturesque fishing town around it. History buffs will also enjoy visiting ancient Celtic cites like Pentre Ifan, a Neolithic stone structure located in North Pembrokeshire.

Many people, especially Americans, return to Wales to seek out their genealogical ancestors. The Welsh government encourages this and there are many programs and tours available for people who are interested in rediscovering the nation of their ancestors.

Wales is also the perfect place for hikers and other lovers of the outdoors. Snowdon Mountain is the highest places in both Wales and Britain and offers fantastic views of the famous Welsh countryside. There are also over 1,000 miles of cycling trails for bicycle lovers. Pembrokeshire National Park covers a great expanse of Wales’s rocky coastline and is a perfect place to explore sandy beaches, rocky trails, sea caves, and picturesque fjords.

For city-lovers Cardiff is the perfect spot. Almost 15 million tourists visit Cardiff each year. Visitors are often drawn to the city’s rich history and visit spots like Saint Fagan’s Castle, Cardiff Castle, and Llandaff Cathedral. Cardiff is also famous for its restaurant and pub scene. People from all over the world come to Cardiff to enjoy its delicious meals and relaxed atmosphere.

Common Welsh Phrases – Welsh Culture for kids

Bore da: Good morning

Prynhawn da: Good afternoon

Noswaith dda: Good evening

Nos da: Goodnight

Os gwelwch yn dda: Please

Diolch: Thanks

Mae’n ddrwg gen i: I’m sorry

Esgusodwch fi: Excuse me

Shw mae?: How are you?

Ble mae …?: Where is…?

Nadolig Llawen: Merry Christmas

Blwyddwyn Newydd Dda: Happy New Year

Penblwydd Hapus: Happy Birthday

Dw i’n dy garu di: I love you

Welsh Alphabet – Welsh Culture for kids

 

 

The Welsh language uses a form of the Latin alphabet, just like English does. When the English invaded Wales during the Middle Ages, they brought their alphabet with them. Previous to the invasion Welsh had no written language. However, Welsh itself is older than the English language.

The Welsh language does not use certain letters found in English, and has some traits of their own. The letters k, v, x, and z are not used in Welsh. Very occasionally they will show up in loan words like “kilogram,” but are more often replaced with the Welsh sound-a-like letter. For example, “kilogram” is written “cilogram”.

Just because the letters themselves may be like English’s doesn’t mean that Welsh pronunciation is just like English’s. A good example is the letter j. A j in Welsh makes a sound like the letter t in water or the letter g in garage.

Welsh Children’s Songs – Welsh Culture for kids

Wales is known for its inventive songs and rhymes for children. Here are a couple of Welsh favorites.

Y Broga Bach

Broga bach aeth maes i rodio Twywyadio,

Ar gefen ei farch a’i gyfwy cryno,

Pwy lygadai ond llygoden.

Meddai’r Broga Bach yn serchog,

“A fynni di fod yn wraig i farchog?”

“Pa ryw fantais gawn o fentro?”

“Gwisgo’n grand fel gwraig marsiandwr,

Cei ddigon o berlau yn dy barlwr.”

“Gwell yw’r wisg o flew bach llwydion.”

“Mi rof iti gig i’w fwyta,

Cei ddiod o win a medd dy wala.”

“Gwell yw ceisio peth o’r cosyn.”

“Dyna ben, ni waeth heb geisio;

Yr wyt ti’n un anodd iawn dy blesio.”

“Caws a bara a’m plesia’n burion.”

The Little Toad

The little toad went out to walk

On his mare with a neat saddle,

From the corner of his eye he saw a mouse.

The little toad said courteously,

“Would you like to be a knight’s wife?”

“What advantage is there to such a venture?”

“Wearing smart clothes like a merchant’s wife,

With plenty of pearls in your parlour.”

“I’d rather have a cloak of little grey hairs.”

“I’ll give you some meat to eat,

Plenty of wine and mead.”

“I’d rather have some cheese.”

“That’s it, there’s no point asking;

You’re too difficult to please.”

“Cheese and bread please me fine.”

Bwrw Glaw

Bwrw glaw yn sobor iawn

Wel dyma bnawn anghynes,

‘Mochel dan yr ambarel

A cherdded fel brenhines.

Eisio ambarel yn siŵr

I gadw dwr o ‘nghlustie,

Clustie’n gwrando ar y wlad

Yn siarad am fy siwrne.

Holi hwn a holi hon

A holi John Dwygeiniog,

Pwy ‘di hon a’r ambarel?

Y mae hi’n ddel gynddeiriog.

Raining

Raining very heavily,

What a miserable afternoon,

Sheltering under the umbrella

And walking like a queen.

Surely I need an umbrella

To keep the water out of my ears,

Ears that listen to the countryside

Talking about my journey.

Asking here and there

And asking Twopenny John,

Who is this with the umbrella,

She’s very pretty indeed

 

Welsh Baby Names – Welsh Culture for kids

In the past, Welsh babies were usually given names from the Welsh language. For boys this meant names like Llewellyn, Carey, Bevan, Rhys, Tristan, and Gareth. Nowadays, boys often have names that come from the English language like Oliver, Jack, Ethan, Harry, and Charlie. The same thing goes for girls names. In history, girls had names like Gladys, Eira, Morwen, Gwenyth, and Briallen. Common names now are Lily, Ruby, Rose, Ella, Mia, and Olivia.

In recent years the Welsh tend to name their babies the same as the English do. Sometimes families will give their children both an English language name (like David) and its Welsh equivalent (in this case, Dydd.) When they grow up some people use exclusively their English name of their Welsh name. Other people use their Welsh name sometimes (such as when speaking Welsh or with their family) and their English name at others (like in the workplace).

Welsh Music – Welsh Culture for kids

Music plays a large part in Welsh culture and was a very important part of traditional life. Wales is often referred to as “the land of the song” because of its rich musical heritage.

 

 

Wales is famous for its beautiful choral songs, which originate in the early Middle Ages. Welsh music has also produced beautiful songs that were originally sung during religious processions, an important part of medieval life. Songs would have been heard everywhere: at church, in the streets, in pubs, and in homes. Song was an important form of expression and was a way the Welsh communicated their history and taught religious lessons.

Bards would play beautiful ballads and recite poems accompanied by music. They could be found everywhere from street corners to the halls of kings delighting everyone with their songs of love and adventure. Bards used instruments like fiddles, harps, flutes and the Crwth, which is much like a zither. Although the Catholic Church frowned on secular music, this type of music was still common throughout the medieval period.

When the English conquered Wales they supressed Welsh music along with all other aspects of Welsh culture. The introduction of the protestant Methodist church further discouraged Welsh traditional music. However, at the end of the 18th century this began to change. Choral singing became popular again in Wales with singing contests springing up all over the nation. Beautiful hymns began to be composed in both Welsh and English. It was these songs that would give Wales its worldwide reputation as a land of song.

In the 20th century Welsh pop music has become popular throughout the world. Acts like Bonnie Tyler, Duffy, Badfinger, Stereophonics, and Maniac Street Preachers play concerts in many countries and are played on radios all over the world.

 

Welsh Costuming – Welsh Culture for kids

 

 

At the end of 19th century Welsh people began to wear the suits and dresses common in England, and continue to follow English clothing trends today. However, Welsh women traditionally wore a very specific costume in their everyday life. They wore a dress called a “bedgown.” A bedgown is kind of like a long tunic, ending at the mid-thigh. They were mostly made of cotton, but sometimes were made of linen or wool. Underneath them women would wear petticoats and often tied an apron over it all.

Women also traditionally wore a very unique and striking hat. The hats are tall and wide-brimmed with a buckle just above the rim. They are often compared to the hats wore by the early Puritan settlers of New England.
Shawls are also important to Welsh traditional costuming. Women made these at home in many different shapes and patterns. Women still wear the full traditional costume while celebrating certain holidays, particularly the Welsh National Holiday of Saint David’s Day. Saint David’s Day is a public holiday celebrating the patron Saint of Wales, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant.

Welsh Holidays – Welsh Culture for kids

 

The Roman Catholic faith has played a large part in Wales for the last millennia, and many Welsh holidays come from Catholic holidays. Besides Christmas and Easter, the most important Welsh Holiday is Saint David’s Day, which takes place every March 1st. Saint David lived in the 6th century. He was a famous scholar and teacher who set up monasteries and churches throughout Wales. He also was said to have performed miracle. It is said that once he was giving a speech and the land around him rose up to form a hill.

Saint David has become much more than a religious figure; he is a symbol of the strength of the Welsh people. A famous old Welsh poem dreams of a day when the Welsh and other Celtic peoples will unite under the banner of Saint David to cast off British rule. To this day, the holiday is used as a celebration of Welsh culture. People around the country dress in traditional Welsh clothing and play traditional music and games. School children sing traditional songs at concerts called “Eisteddfodau.” At nighttime it is common to have a big dinner with the entire family.

Wales also celebrates many seasonal feasts. The most important one is called Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau, of Festival of the Candles. It is equivalent to Candlemas which is celebrated throughout Europe in different ways. On Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau churches give out candles and people lead processions around their town. As Wales is a Celtic nation, the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes are also celebrated with feasting, fairs, and dinners by many families.

Welsh History – Welsh Culture for kids

Wales has had a very long and difficult history. The nation has suffered through many invasions. The Ancient Romans invaded Wales in AD 48 and ruled over the area into the 4th century. After the Romans left many regional tribes and king fought for control of tiny principalities.

By the 11th century Norman forces from Britain began a series of brutal invasions. British kings like Edward the First exploited the bickering of Welsh leaders to take control of vast swatches of Wales. Sometimes the Welsh could launch their own attacks, pushing back British forces, leading to centuries of armed conflict. For this reason Wales has the most castles per square mile in the world as generations upon generations of new factions built bigger and better fortresses in order to remain in control.

By the 15th century Wales could no longer hold out from the power of Britain. Wales was completely under the control Britain. At first the British were relatively lax, but when the Tudor family took the throne at the end of the War of the Roses King Henry VII passed a series of strict laws in Wales. The Welsh legal system was abolished, the Welsh language was stripped of any official use, and the Welsh were no longer legally their own people.

For the centuries to come the Welsh struggled to maintain their identity and keep their language alive. Repressive British laws kept the Welsh poor and the only way people could make money was to leave their Welsh names and heritages behind them. By the opening of the 20th century Welsh was a minority language and by World War II it was in danger of disappearing all together.

Fortunately, in the last half of the 20th century there was a Welsh cultural revival. The British government began to recognize the Welsh as a people and gave them far more freedom, after considerable struggle. The Welsh government now encourages Welsh culture and language and hopes to preserve it well into the future. Wales also has started to prosper financially, becoming one of the richest areas on the globe.