Mari Lwyd brought to life at Gower College Swansea

Updated 23/01/2023

The 17th-century Welsh cultural celebration took place at our Llwyn y Bryn, Tycoch and Gorseinon campuses, as a flash-performance of the Mari Lwyd horse made its way through the sites.   

Mari Lwyd (Y Fari Lwyd in Welsh meaning Old Grey Mare), is traditionally a New Year celebration to pass the marking of the dark days of winter and welcome the spring. Once celebrated across Wales, it’s now a tradition associated with south and south-east of the country.   

“We have been extremely fortunate to welcome the Mari Lwyd to College.  As well as being a visual feast, the public performance caused an intrigue about our Welsh heritage and culture.” Anna Davies, Welsh Manager said.  “I am thankful to our Art & Design Technician, David Pitt for organising the events, and for his wealth of knowledge and creativity in putting on such a display”. 

What is the Mari Lwyd tradition? 

  • The Mari Lwyd (Y Fari Lwyd in Welsh meaning Grey Mare), is a Welsh midwinter tradition, often to celebrate New Year. 

  • The Mari Lwyd consists of a wooden or cardboard mare’s skull on a stick, which is carried by a person and covered with a white sheet. It is decorated with ribbons and small bells. 

  • The Mari Lwyd forms part of a group which makes its way in ceremony through the streets of the local community, calling at pubs and houses where they break into traditional dancing and song. 

  • Sometimes, the jaw of the skull is spring loaded so that the operator can ‘snap’ it at passers-by, trying to frighten them and causing some humour and havoc.  

Find out more about our Welsh Language activities.