When: 16th January 2016, from 2.30pm until late
£: Free (except the Ceilidh which costs £5 on the door)
What is it?
The Chepstow Wassail and Mari Lwyd is a popular family friendly annual event of old traditions, strange customs, capers, and weird creatures.
The Wassail is an ancient tradition of blessing apple trees and asking for a good harvest in the coming year with lots of singing, dancing and cider drinking. The whole procedure is organised by a character known as The Wassail Butler.
The Mari Lwyd is an ancient South Wales custom of taking a horse skull dressed in a shroud from house to house… and pub to pub. It is a kind of First Footing Tradition (bringing good fortune). The Mari Lwyd (grey mare) is carried by the Mari group who try to gain entry to a house or pub by singing and riddle telling. There are usually around 6 Mari Lwyd groups from all over the Wales and England, along with a variety of characters such as The Green Man, who sometimes turns up from the deepest part of the Forest of Dean.
The highlight of the event is the Meeting on the Border, known as ”The Oldest New Tradition in Wales”. At around 6.30pm The English Wassailers and The Welsh Mari Lwyders come together at the border (the middle of the old iron bridge) to exchange flags and drink from the Wassail Bowl. They wish each other Happy New Year with much dancing and celebration. Afterwards the group head back into Wales for The Mari Lwyd ceremony at Chepstow Museum. The event rounds off with a Ceilidh at the Drill Hall at 8pm.