25th January every year.
St Dwynwen (Santes Dwynwen) was a 5th-century Welsh princess who, aftter being sadly unlucky in love, decided to became a nun and pray for lovers, in the hope that their fortunes would fair better than hers. There are many versions of this popular story, this is just one of them (courtesy of Cadw's ebook - Santes Dwynwen).
Princess Dwynwen was the beautiful daughter of the king of south Wales. When she was forbidden to marry the man she loved, she ran away and became a nun. She devoted the rest of her life to helping other lovers find happiness.
Forbidden love turns to fury
Dwynwen was said to be the most beautiful and spirited of the 24 daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog, king of Breconshire (Mid Wales). When she was a young woman, she met Maelon Dafodrill, the son of a neighbouring king. The couple fell passionately in love, and planned to spend their lives together.
Maelon went to ask the king for Dwynwen’s hand in marriage, but her father refused, saying that he had already arranged a suitable match for her. Maelon was furious, taking out his anger on Dwynwen.Then he left the palace in a rage.
Dwynwen ran away into the woodland, then threw herself to the ground and cried herself to sleep. While she slept, she dreamt a spirit came to her and told her Maelon wouldn’t trouble her further because he’d been turned into a block of ice. The sprit then granted her three wishes.
The kind-hearted Dwynwen told the spirit that her first wish was for Maelon to be thawed. Her second was for true love to always be protected in her name. The third was that she would never again fall in love, nor marry.
All three wishes came true.
Devoting her life to lovers
Dwynwen left home to prevent her father from making her marry for power or greed. She became a nun and travelled Wales, setting up churches and praying for those who were troubled in love. Her final stop was the island of Llanddwyn, off the coast of Anglesey, where the remains of Dwynwen’s church can be seen today.
After Dwynwen’s death, a well was dedicated to her. Some believe that this well is the home of a sacred fish whose movements predict the future for lovers. Others say that the well sometimes boils up, and those who see it will be lucky in love.
A rival to St Valentine’s Day
In recent years, the popularity of St Dwynwen’s Day has grown. Like St Valentine’s Day, it is celebrated with greetings cards, heart-shaped gifts, flowers and parties.
One of the most unusual of the St Dwynwen’s Day events took place in Denbighshire in 2007. On the day, bachelor farmers attached pictures of themselves to their milk cartons, with a message to ‘Fancy a Farmer’.
If you're looking to write or whisper some sweet nothings in welsh to somebody special this St Dwynwen's Day, our list of popular romantic words and phrases (and how to say them) will come in handy for even a complete welsh language novice.