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Welsh Culture: Facts & Traditions

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  • 0:04 Wales
  • 0:56 Culture
  • 3:42 Festivals & Traditions
  • 5:21 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

Explore the culture of a land of mythological dragons, a unique language, passionate sports fans, and an interesting cuisine. In this lesson, learn about some aspects of the Welsh culture and explore some traditions and festivals.

Wales

The Welsh culture is full of traditions and legends. Even a dragon is considered a national symbol! Over time, this country has adopted many cultural aspects from neighboring England, but it still keeps its national identity and many local traditions.

Wales is a small nation located in the western part of Great Britain. Humans have lived in this area for thousands upon thousands of years. The Welsh culture has Celtic roots, and the land was once part of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, it was ruled by Norman knights and was conquered by England in 1282. When the United Kingdom was established in 1707, Wales became part of it.

There are vast farmlands, mountains, and forest areas, many protected as national parks. The population is over 3 million, and Cardiff is the capital city and biggest urban area.

Culture

The Welsh culture has been influenced by England for centuries, so both share some common aspects. However, there has always been an interest in preserving cultural elements that make the Welsh unique and significantly different from other cultures in the United Kingdom.

Language

The two official languages are English and Welsh. There have been efforts to preserve the traditional Welsh language, and it is taught in schools; also, it is included in printed media and television. However, the use of Welsh has gradually decreased, and now only about one-fifth of the population can speak it.

National Symbols

Since medieval times, the dragon has been an important symbol of Wales. This mythological creature is mentioned in several legends and is part of the national flag, which features a red dragon in the middle.

Daffodils and leeks are also national symbols. It is believed that the leek was originally the only symbol and the daffodil was gradually adopted afterward. This was probably because of a confusion between both words. In Welsh, leek is cenhinen and daffodil is cenhinen Bedr (which literally translates as Peter's leek).

Family and Religion

The majority of the population identifies as Christian. The largest denominations in Wales are the Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Catholics.

Most households are formed by nuclear families. However, extended families often meet once a week, usually on Sundays after going to church. It is commonly believed that many local families are related, so conversations among strangers often include asking about relatives in common.

Food and Drink

The food relies mostly on locally available products, including vegetables and cattle, but especially lamb. Fish and seafood are also common products. Many dishes are stews or soups. Cawl is considered the national dish and is a broth of meat (beef or lamb) and vegetables. The Welsh rarebit is another local specialty consisting of bread toasts topped with a mixture of melted cheese, milk, eggs, and Worcestershire sauce. Beer and whiskey are produced locally, although on a smaller scale than in England or Scotland.

Clothing

On a daily basis, Western clothes are worn. In festivals, however, women sometimes wear the traditional national dress, which became popular during the 19th century. It consists of a long dress (usually red), a checkered apron, and a tall black hat. In rural areas, this attire continues to be seen among some women.

Sports

Rugby is probably the most popular sport, having many passionate fans. It is seen by many as a matter of national identity and pride, and the matches against England are often a big occasion. Cricket and soccer are other popular sports.

Festivals & Traditions

Welsh traditions are an interesting combination of ancient mythology, legends, and religious influences. Some of the traditional festivals and celebrations include:

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