Merry Cwtchmas from The Vintage Bride

Eeeeek, the big day is almost upon us. Merry Cwtchmas everybody!!!

Firstly, I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post. It’s been a busy few months for us here in the Murray house. Back in September baby Luc (the Welsh spelling of Luke) was born. He’s been wonderful and we’re so excited about his first Christmas! Oscar has proven himself to be a brilliant big brother already, we’re feeling truly blessed right now and can’t wait for tomorrow!

As it’s Christmas Eve I imagine wedding planning has been put on the back burner for a day or two (and rightly so!) So let’s get cosy, put Bing Crosby on and I’ll give you a good fix of nostalgia.

For me, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a time to relax and reflect, to make new beginnings and to remember. No other time of the year seems to churn up the feelings Christmas does. Every year, without fail, I am transported back to a time when magic really did exist. Everything about Christmas, the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the sights; they all play a part in unearthing that feeling year on year. As a lover of almost anything with a bit of history behind it, I love to surround myself with tradition and nostalgia.

Wales has some fantastic Christmas traditions. The two below are my favourites

Taffy Making

On Christmas Eve, families would boil toffee on open fires and then drop dollops of it into cold, cold water. The taffy would curl into shapes, sometimes resembling a letter which would be used to predict your future love (if unmarried, of course) Already married? I’m sure you can just eat it

I love this tradition and we’ve decided to start doing this. Fancy it too? Here’s a recipe

Plygain

On Christmas morning, between 3am and 6am (and probably full of taffy) many would attend a church service known as Plygain meaning daybreak. Men would gather in rural churches and sing carols for three hours. The service still takes place in many rural areas and is becoming increasingly popular. Following the service, a typical Christmas Day would begin with a feast and drink aplenty.

We would love to know if you have attended this service before or intend to do so!

Plygain in St Fagans Museum. Image Source.

Plygain in St Fagans Museum. Image Source.

Christmas is also about making your own traditions. We decorate our real tree together while listening to Christmas songs. We give a ‘Christmas Eve box’ which includes a film, new pyjamas, hot chocolate with marshmallows and a Christmas story for a cosy evening in. We eat pork pie (with ketchup) on Christmas morning which my family have done for at least three generations. We wear our best clothes (no Christmas jumpers in our house!) We ALWAYS watch The Snowman and we usually fall out over a game of Scrabble or Monopoly.

Traditional Christmas Hot Chocolate. Image Source.

Traditional Christmas Hot Chocolate. Image Source.

We adopted a few more traditions this year too. We jumped on the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon, which my four year old loves. I’m sure he’ll be making an appearance next year too! Back in the summer I bought a job lot of hand written recipes and newspaper cuttings on eBay, most of which dated back to the war. Among them were a number of Christmas recipes which I framed and hung in our kitchen. They remind me of my great aunt and, although not written by her, I’m sure would make her smile. I’ll hang these every year and when things settle down, may even try the recipes! We will also be sure to try out the toffee tonight (I’ll let you know how it goes!)

I’ll leave you with an extract from ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ by Dylan Thomas (which is waiting in Oscar’s Christmas Eve box… shhhh)

All of us at Cwtch HQ would like to wish you a wonderful Christmas! Nadolig Llawen!

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

Love Sophie x

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