Calan Gaeaf is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on the 1st November. The day before is Nos Galan Gaeaf or Nos Galan Gaeaf, a Ysbrydnos ("night of the spirits") when the spirits are abroad. Traditionally, people avoid graveyards, stiles, and crossroads, as spirits are believed to congregate there.
The villagers would dance around a bonfire and everyone would write their name on the stones or mark them in some other way and place them in and around said fire. When the fire started to die out, they all ran home, believing if they stayed, Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta (a bad omen that took the form of a black tailless sow with a headless woman) or Y Ladi Wen (“the white lady”, a ghostly apparition often said to be headless) would hunt them or devour their souls.
One rhyme in particular shows how the last child of Nos Calan Gaeaf was in danger of being eaten by the dreaded beast:
Adref, adref, am I cyntaf',
Hwch ddu gwta a gipio'r ola'.
The next morning, all the stones containing the names of the villagers would be checked, and it was thought that finding his clean burnt stone was good luck. If, however, a stone was missing, the person who wrote their name on the missing stone would be expected to die within a year.
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Today the Welsh celebrate the first day of winter, Calan Gaeaf. The villagers would dance around a bonfire and everyone would write their name on the stones or mark them in some other way and place them in and around said fire. #mythology #myth #legend #calendar #1 November #wales #calangaeaf