Mari Lwyd—Wales’ Rhyming Horse Skull Puppet

Imagine that you are sitting in front of a fire on a frosty night sometime in the twelve days after Christmas when you hear a knock at the door. It could be neighbors with treats, or perhaps carolers looking for a pot of hot wassail. Or, if you’re in Wales, it may be a horse skull with glowing eyes and a long white cloak hoping to challenge you to a rhyming contest so it can come inside to raid your pantry and wine cellar.

On the Second Day of Imported Christmas, we made a Mari Lwyd to celebrate midwinter like our Welsh ancestors. Turns out it’s harder than you might think to find an actual horse skull in Utah. Fortunately, Gordon found Trac Cymru, a Welsh folk development organization that has created a flatpack cardboard version with international shipping.

Continue reading

Wassailing: England’s Apple Tree Pep Talk

For most of my life, wassailing was just something that popped up in Christmas song lyrics, like “Love and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too” or “Here we come a-wassailing.” But as long as we’re talking unusual Christmas traditions, we thought that on the Fourth Day of Imported Christmas, we’d share the joy of wassailing in its ancient form. Continue reading