As we arrive near 31st October, people are slowly revving up to celebrate this year’s annual Halloween. Even under the shadow of the pandemic, the tradition of Halloween will continue to bloom.
However, in Wales, there have been calls to ditch ‘Anglo-American’ traditions in favour of regional traditions which for long have been ignored by people. The Welsh language community organisations are urging the children of the nation to boycott the ‘Anglo-American’ Halloween traditions in favour of adhering to Wales’ mythology.
This year, as part of Halloween celebrations, the MentrauIaith is putting an emphasis on a leading Day of the Dead figure from the Celtic folklore – Gwyn ap Nudd.
A series of videos have been published on social media ahead of the 2020 Halloween celebrations. In the videos, storyteller GwilymMorus-Baird can be seen narrating the story of Gwyn ap Nudd who is King of the Underworld. These videos aim to raise awareness about the Welsh and Celtic folklore.
“With this year’s Covid-19 restrictions affecting the usual Anglo American Halloween activities, it’s an opportunity to introduce Gwyn apNudd to the children and young people of Wales,” Bet Huws, Hunaniaith Officer, said.
The MentrauIaith is also conducting a national competition for children and young people. The participants are being asked to create and decorate Gwyn ap Nudd’s skull by midnight on Halloween.
The organisers are asking children and young people in Wales to download a template from the MentrauIaith Cymru website in order to create a paper skull which will then have to be decorated.
The winning skulls in the primary school age and secondary school age categories will then go through to the national round. There, the skulls will be judged by two of Wales’ most prominent Welsh language authors: AngharadTomos and Bethan Gwanas.
To note here, Gwyn is closely connected with the otherworld, Annwn, in medieval Welsh literature. Gwyn is known for playing the role of a psychopomp. He is tasked with gathering the souls of the dead and then transporting them to the next life.
In other tales, he is known for leading a pack of supernatural hounds known as the Cŵn Annwn. These hounds help him in harvesting the souls of the dead.
According to story Culhwch and Olwen, Gwyn was “placed over the brood of devils in Annwn, lest they should destroy the present race”. In this particular tale, he is known for riding a horse called Du y Moroedd, which translates to ‘Blackness of the Sea’.