July 23, 2023
Wales Has Symbols Rich in History
Wales has existed as a distinct nation since the early medieval era. As a result, it has developed numerous symbols, each of which has been imbued with historical significance. Some of these symbols are as well-known as these things get. Others are much less so, meaning they can be considered unexpected Welsh treasures.
What Are Some of Wales's Best-Known Symbols?
Here are some of the best-known symbols of Wales and Welsh culture:
If you asked someone to name the national symbol of Wales, chances are good that they'd answer y Ddraig Goch. This would be the Red Dragon that has been connected with the nation in one way or another since the reign of King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd in the 7th century AD. The creature shows up in several stories. In particular, there is the one in which a king struggled to build a stronghold on an unstable site. Eventually, a boy revealed that the site rested atop two dragons locked in combat. The Red Dragon represented the Welsh, while its white counterpart represented the English. The same boy predicted that the former would win in the end, so it isn't hard to see why it became the symbol of Welsh pride. If you're interested, you can find plenty of merchandise bearing the Red Dragon for this and other reasons.
National symbols aren't always the most glamorous things around. Sometimes, they're ordinary things, as shown by Wales's longstanding association with the leek. It isn't 100 percent clear how the nation took up the vegetable. If you believe legends, this is another thing that can be laid at the feet of King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd, who supposedly ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by attaching leeks to their armor. Whatever the causes, the Tudors spread the association far and wide when they had their guards wear leeks on St. David's Day. Something that suggests Wales was already associated with the vegetable in those days because the Tudors had Welsh origins.
Amusingly, Wales's association with leeks also led to its association with daffodils. For those curious, the flower's Welsh name is cenhinen Bedr, which translates to "Peter's leek." Besides this, some people speculate that the Welsh took up the daffodil because it bloomed around March 1. That is St. David's Day, which is relevant because said figure has been the patron saint of his people since 1120 AD. He was a symbol of hope and faith long before that date, meaning his status confirmed what had already been the case.
Every culture has its way of showing love. The Welsh are no exception to this rule. For instance, young Welshmen once carved beautiful and elaborate wooden spoons as gifts to show their romantic interest. Once upon a time, it was a way for them to do something special while showing their skills with their hands. Nowadays, the context has changed. Even so, love spoons still see a surprising amount of use, meaning you might find something interesting in our store.
Technically, the Welsh harp has Italian origins. However, it has more than earned its name. As the story goes, the triple harp spread throughout Europe in the 17th century before fading from popularity because of more advanced successors. Wales stood out in that the triple harp continues to see use in modern times. Something that can be credited to its role in local music festivals.
Welsh names are hard to understand for English speakers. This makes sense because Welsh has very different origins. Specifically, it's a descendant of the Brittonic spoken by the people of Britain back before the Saxons came. As such, Welsh is a member of the Celtic language family, meaning it's related to Breton, Cornish, Gaelic, and Manx. Currently, there are plans to increase the number of Welsh speakers, thus preserving the language as a living part of Welsh culture. If you're interested, you can find resources to help you learn the language.
In the 19th century, Europeans looked for national costumes that distinguished them from their neighbors, thus marking them as full-fledged nations rather than funny-looking subsets of other cultures. Generally speaking, they found what they wanted in the clothing worn by people in the country, who were seen as being closer to their roots than their more urban and cosmopolitan counterparts. Welsh national dress with its black hat and red cloak combo came about this way. Still, there can be no doubt that the Welsh have embraced it as a part of their identity. Naturally, the various elements of Welsh national dress are readily available for purchase.
Of course, every culture has pursuits that it's more passionate about than others. For the Welsh, this means rugby, which would be their traditional choice of national sport. Welsh rugby teams do better in some periods than in others. However, you know people love a sport when they stay fans of their local teams, rain or shine.
December 30, 2023