Wales

Why do people in Wales celebrate Saint Dwynwen's day?

Llanddwyn church at night Image copyright Mathew Browne
Image caption Thousands of people visit Saint Dwynwen's Llanddwyn church in Wales each year

There's a 5th Century girl from Wales to blame for why people are getting unseasonably loved up on January 25.

Saint Dwynwen might be the Welsh patron saint of love, but she did not have much luck in that department.

Legend has it, she had an arranged marriage gone wrong, a frozen man to deal with and ended up as an agony aunt.

Here's everything you need to know about Saint Dwynwen and what people in Wales do to celebrate.

Who is Saint Dwynwen?

Well, scrap Saint Valentine and his miracle-working skills. This girl - whose face you might have seen on a stained glass window in a church - has had a rough old time of it.

Image copyright Graham Howells
Image caption Folklore says Saint Dwynwen helps lovers in pain

Brecon girl Dwynwen, one of 36 daughters of an Irish king, fell in love with Maelon Dyfodrull from north Wales.

But her dad, Brychan, didn't like the look of this northern boy and wouldn't let the loved-up pair get married.

Maelon lost his temper with Dwynwen and threatened to rape her when she wouldn't marry him, according to Siรขn Lewis, author of Dwynwen: Santes Cariadon Cymru.

So she prayed to God, and he was turned to ice - to freeze his passion. An angel also gave her three wishes.

Image copyright Mathew Browne
Image caption The Twr Mawr Lighthouse lies on Llanddwyn island in Anglesey

First she wished to be free of Maelon, and he vanished. Second, to never marry and finally to help other lovers in pain.

Dwynwen settled down after all that drama (worse than Love Island) in a convent in Anglesey, Llanddwyn church.

Just to finish Dwynwen's weird fortune in love, according to folklore, a sacred fish swam by the church, predicting the future relationships of couples with its movements.

Who still celebrates Saint Dwynwen's day ?

Quite a few people apparently, especially if you search #SaintDwynwensDay on Twitter and Instagram.

And many people still visit the scenic Llanddwyn church, as part of the Anglesey Coastal Path.

Also it's a good day to give someone a spoon. Love spoons have been exchanged by Welsh lovers since the 17th Century.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Love spoons have been exchanged by Welsh lovers since the 17th Century

Photographer Mathew Browne, from Carmarthen, said that the church is a "hotspot" for photographers because it is so scenic.

"It is rare to have the island to yourself with the age of social media, everyone is trying to get that shot for Instagram," he said.

Mr Browne, 34, added that he hopes to celebrate St Dwynwen's day with his wife and visit the church again.

"I haven't got a card or anything today, but I will do a cwtchy dinner in with my wife tonight," he added.

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