Feasts and Festivals: July and August

Heol Awst is the main street of the ancient market town of Caerfyrddin. In the opening chapter of my forthcoming novel, 220px-Eisteddfod_1991Vengeance’s Son, the growing family of Huw Brodawel walks through the 10th Century street, avoiding the horses but unable to avoid an altercation with Heledd’s nemesis, Alys Talgarth.

Throughout Cymru and Iwerddon, the summer months of July and August are famous for their horse-trading events. Farmers gather in fairs from one end of the country to the other, but none is more renown than the gathering referred to as The Royal Welsh, held in mid Wales at Llanelwedd, near Llanfair-ym-Muallt.

However, in medieval times, another renown event was Gwyl Awst, held in Caerfyrddin — a horse show and market event that brought citizens from as far away as the continent to deal in horse-flesh. The same interest in horse trading and races takes place in Iwerddon in July – the Galway Races. My family and I were not as aware of the Irish event in July when we visited our Gaelic neighbors a few years ago. Accommodation was not readily available, even for a family with three hearty, sleepy boys.

Heol Awst is also known as Lammas Street. This name refers to Lammas Day, celebrated on August 1st, when the fields were thrown open for common grazing. Lammas is a corruption of “loaf-mass” – a celebration in the early church when the first loaves of the harvest were consecrated.

mererid2001No festival is as widely celebrated than the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod) – a festival arising from the earliest bardic events. This takes place during the first full week of August. The EG is a celebration of all things Welsh and Wales, but especially the Welsh language (Cymraeg). Iolo Morgannwg is credited with having revived the bardic festival – a competition for money and patronage between poets. The EG has grown into an Arts Festival, larger than any other in the world and, together with its daughter festival in May for the young people and children of Wales – Eisteddfod yr Urdd, offers entertainment and creative competition in all forms of the Arts.

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Filed under Cymreig/Welsh, Cymru/Wales, Hanes Cymru/Welsh History

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