Sunday, January 01, 2012

Mae Mari Lwyd yma

Mari LwydIn Wales, the Mari Lwyd (the Gray Mari) is brought from door to door on New Year's. Those bringing her sing a song at each house, which is usually followed by a "pwnco" or versifying contest with an opponent within the house, describing each other's singing, drunkenness, stinginess, etc - this back-and-forth challenge culminates in those outside coming in for drinks. Then the Mari's troop bid their hosts farewell and move on.

The Mari Lwyd is sometimes thought to be a tribute to Mary, but it's one of those customs which long predates Christianity... The horse's skull is likely a death-of-the-old-year avatar instead, and "mari" is most likely the English word "mare" borrowed as a later name.

Here's one version of the Mari's song as she arrives (with a literal translation; and traditional English below).

Wel dyma ni'n dwad (Well, here we are coming)
Gyfeillion diniwed (a harmless company)
I ofyn cawn gennad
I ofyn cawn gennad
I ofyn cawn gennad i ganu. (to ask your permission / to sing)

Mae Mari Lwyd yma (The Mari Lwyd is here)
A sêr a ribanau (and a star and ribbons)
Yn werth i rhoi goleu
Yn werth i rhoi goleu
Yn werth i rhoi goleu nos heno. (worthy to give light / on this night)

Mae Mari Lwyd lawen (The Mari Lwyd is happy)
Yn dod yn y dafarn (going to the tavern)
I ofyn am arian
I ofyn am arian
I ofyn am arian a chwrw. (to ask for money / and beer)

Wel, tapwch y faril (Well, tap the barrel)
Gyllongwch yn rhugl (pour it fluently)
A rhenwch e'n gynil
A rhenwch e'n gynil
A rhenwch e'n gynil Y Gwyliau. (and serve it / in the Holiday season)


This is the Mari's farewell to her current hosts.

Wel dyma'r enw feinwen (Well, this is the name of the maid)
Sy'n codi gyda'r seren (who rises with the stars)
Wel dyma'r enw feinwen
Sy'n codi gyda'r seren
A hon yw'r washael fawr ei chlod (and here is the wassail of great praise)
Sy'n caru bod yn llawen. (which loves to be merry)
A hon yw'r washael fawr ei chlod
Sy'n caru bod yn llawen.

Dymunwn i'ch lawenydd (I wish you all joy)
I gynal blwyddyn newydd (in having a new year)
Tra paro'r gwr i dincian cloch (while the man is ready to ring the bell)
Well, well yn boch chwi beunydd. (better and better may you be daily)

Ffarweliwch, foneddigion, (farewell, gentlemen)
Ni gawsom croeso digon. (we have had welcome enough)
Bendith Duw f'o ar eich tai (god's blessing be on your house)
A phob rhyw rhai o'ch dynion. (and on everyone of your men)

(Greeting:)

Well here we come,
Innocent friends
To ask for permission (x 3)
To sing

If we don’t get permission,
Let us hear out the song.
What kind of leaving (x 3)
Tonight.

We bruised our shins
Crossing over the style.
To come here (x 3)
Tonight.

If there are men
Who can write poetry,
Let us hear them now (x 3)
Tonight.

If you went too early
To bed in an angry mood,
Oh, get up nicely (x 3)
Tonight.

The fat, sweet dish
And all sorts of spices
O cut it in portions
(For) the holidays.

Oh, tap the barrel
[Which the lads deserve] (?)
Don’t divide it so miserly (x 3)
(On) the holidays.


Iona's Nutmeg & Ginger is a wonderful album of Celtic holiday music.

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