The Welsh Wassail Tradition: The Mari Lwyd
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About The Ritual From:The Book of WassailTop  click here 

The Mari Lwyd Song, Traditional click

Roberts,The Mari Lwyd and its Origin, 1896 click

Mary Lwyd, Wirt Sikes, 1881 click

Mari Lwyd, Thomas Christopher Evans,1887 click

The Mari Lwyd: A Twelfth Night Custom, David Jones, 1888

Mari Lwyd, The Link to Wassail and Origins, --C. Lorwerth Peate (1943) click

The Three Merry Dancers of Wales, Lois Blake (1958) click

MARI LWYD. Mr. Thomas Young, click

The Story of the Mumbles Horse's Head (Mari Lwyd) click



Ludus Mariae click

CAREG LWYD (Oct 21, 1874).click

South Wales Star - Friday January 1, 1892 click

Ludus Mariae Magdalenae in gaudio. click

South Wales Echo - Friday December 29, 1899 click here

Commentary on: “Re-imagining the Mari Lwyd”, Conrad Bladey,   click here


NO FEASTS ANII FUN. A.I). 1618. Pontypool Free Press - Saturday 29 January 1870LOCAL FOLK LORE. MARY LWYD. —Pontypool Free Press - Saturday 23 December 1876 click here

Western Mail - Saturday 23 December 1882 click here

For the main Wassail Epicenter click

For the most wondrous:The Book of Wassail by Conrad J. Bladey:
Explore the mysteries of Wassail in the largest and most inclusive work on the subject ever published . Hundreds of songs, recipes and  literary references. Plan events, learn songs. Celebrate! Experience this important custom.Five Volumes: 1-Folklore, Isbn 9780983357353. 2-Literature and Drama, Isbn 9780983357360,  3-Music and Dance, Isbn 9780983357377, 4-Recipes, Bowls etc., Isbn 9780983357384, 5-Bibliography, Isbn 978098335739 1
Image Above: The Linthicum, Md., U.S.A Mari

Welsh Mari Lwyd Ritual

A figure of a horse is constructed from a variety of materials and paraded around with singers and musicians from door to door. The groups must ask permission to enter a house and battle dramaticlly with improvised poetry. They bring or request food  drink and are rewarded with the same. Note that the complexity of the ritual varies extensively. At times the Mari simply joins a procession. The goal is to scare the residents of the household, the purpose of which is poorly understood.  Are they being scared into hospitality, or, just awakened to celebrate?


(See related songs in the Wassail Song section)


The Mari Lwyd and its Origin, 1896

By The Rev. W. Roberts, (nefydd.) Translated from the Welsh by W. Eilir Evans.

The following article consists of lengthy quotations from a work written by the Rev. W. Roberts (Nefydd), a Baptist minister and antiquary of some standing, which form part of a book published in the year 1852. A large portion of the original is polemic in character, this essay having for its object the dissuasion of the inhabitants of Wales from observing the customs described."Nefydd's" descriptions of the customs in Wales are very full and accurate, and he must be looked upon as perhaps the first writer who appreciated their significance from the point of view of the student of folk--lore. The translation has been carefully done by Mr. W. Eilir Evans, at the request of Alderman Richard Cory, J.P., to whom the Society is indebted for permission to publish it.

"Certain traditions, superstitions, amusements and forms will be maintained hereditarily, without even a knowledge of, or respect to, their origin, but merely is customary, by the lower order."— (Aev. P. Roberts' Popular Antiquities.)

Without endeavouring to state the different views concerning the origin of Mari Lwyd which have recently appeared in the press,* I shall proceed to give what seems to be the more probable origin of the custom, a custom as to the beginning of which history has little definite to say. Roberts himself does not state its origin.

It is our object directly to prove that Mari Lwyd is but a relic of the dramas which were at one time performed under the sanction of the Roman Catholic Church, and it would seem that many other Welsh customs might also be traced to the same age.

*"Seren Corner,""Monmouthshire Merlin,"&c., &c.

It is well known that many dramatical compositions were formerly acted, several of which have survived to quite recent times, such as the"Mysteries of Coventry and Chester,"Doubtless such interludes as these formerly existed in Wales, indeed the Rev. P. Roberts, the writer of the"Popular Antiquities of Wales,"goes so far as to suggest that the story of Uthr Pendragon's transmigration by Merlin * is a kind of interlude. He also infers that the feast given by Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, in the year 1107, at Christmastide (vide Carnhuanawc, pp. 614 and 531), and the feast of Gruffydd ab Rhys, at Ystrad Tywi, in 1135, were held with a similar object. But it is more reasonable to suppose that those were more like Eisteddfodau, or literary meetings, at which also physical recreation was indulged in.

In the 12th century the Welsh were famous as poets, minstrels, and for their study of nature, as may be seen from portions of the work of Giraldus Cambrensis.

In the writings of W. Hone, a comprehensive account is given of the mediaeval dramas. The reader may consult Hone's book on "Ancient Mysteries and Religious Shows,"published in 1822.

It is supposed that these dramas originated in a desire to bring religion to the level of the masses, with a view to their instruction rather than amusement. In Greece dramatic representation reached a high pitch of excellence, and it is probable that the first Christian religious drama was composed by Gregory Nazianzen, when he was Archbishop of Constantinople.

The ancient  "Fathers" were strongly averse to the classic Greek plays, and condemned and excommunicated those who patronised them. Tertuilian says that"those who in their baptism renounce the devil, with his vanities, become apostates when they appear on the stage."It is supposed that the archbishop's object, in providing scriptural dramas, was to counteract the popular effects of the Greek plays of Sophocles, Euripides, and others. One of Gregory's dramas is still extant; it is a tragedy on "Christ's Passion," in which the Virgin, or the Blessed Mary (Mari Lwyd), form one of the characters. It is said that Gregory succeeded in stemming the influence of the Greek stage by providing comedies and tragedies, based on scriptural events for the people's diversion, and that these were performed in public.**

But acting, as a means of inculcating doctrines held by the Church, as already stated, was introduced in opposition to the pagan plays, and spread widely, and continued in use from Gregory's time up to a few centuries ago. Several customs still in vogue among us may be relics of those times. As regards dramas of this nature still extant, and which go under the name of "Mysteries." The Mysteries of Coventry are forty in number, and the Mysteries of Chester twenty--four. Dugdale, in a

*Vide"Enderbie's Cainb. Triumphans,"p. 185, and "Roberts' Antiquities," p. 137.

**"Ribadeneita's Lives,"Vol. I., p. 333."Leclcre Lives,"Vol. VIII., p. 289.

work published in 1656,* says:"Before the destruction of the monasteries, this city (Coventry), was famous for its plays on Corpus Christi Day, which caused multitudes of people to gather together from far and near; the acting was done by the Grey Friars, who had large and tall theatres on wheels, so as to move hither and thither in the city for the convenience of the onlookers. They consisted of Old and New Testament histories, set in rhyming dialogue, as may be seen in the old manuscript (Bibl. Cotton. Vesp. D. VIII.) called Ludus Corpus Christi, or Ludus Coventriae. "We find that there was a large influx of people to Coventry at the time these plays were acted. Richard III. was a spectator at the feast of Corpus Christi held there in 1483. Henry VII. and his consort visited Coventry for a similar purpose in 1492. The Mysteries of Chester, says a distinguished historian of that district,** were acted up to the time of the Reformation, the last time being in 1574. Williams, in his history of Monmouthshire, surmises that Sion Cent became famous for the part he played in religious dramas, and that the stories concerning him and the devil thus originated (Williams's, p. 231.) W. Hone has published a few of these dramas as specimens. Those now before me are eight in number, all referring to the birth of the Virgin Mary and of Christ as set forth in the Apocryphal gospels more especially. These were published by W. Hone, in 1820. The first mystery treats of the birth of Mary; the second of her teaching in the Temple and the ministering of angels. unto her; the third takes up the miraculous betrothal of Joseph to Mary; the fourth gives the Counsel of the Trinity regarding the incarnation; the fifth, Joseph's intention to put Mary away privily; the sixth, Mary's visit to Elizabeth; the seventh, the Trial of Mary and Joseph; and the eighth, Jesus's miraculous birth in a manger.

I believe the "Mari Lwyd" originated in these mystery--plays, the word llwyd being often used in the sense of blessed, as may be seen from the following instances:—

"Lluyilion fu'r saint, geraint gu,
Disyml, a. llwyd yw lesu."

Rhys Gock Eryri.

"Mynd, er gwann, i'r mwyndir goed,
Mae yn dy law, mynn Duw lwyd."

William Lleyn.

"A chywyddau i Ddnw twyd
Yw Llaswyr Dafydd Brophwyd."

Dafydd ap Gwilym.

"Rhad Duw a. Chynoran lwyd ar y da—The grace of God and the blessed; Cynoran on the cattle—was an ejaculation made use of in offering at the well of Cynoran, at Llysfaen, on behalf of deceased cattle."—("Cambrian Biography"sub. loc.,"Cynoran.".)

In the copy of the Cambrian Biography, owned by lolo Morganwg and Taliesin ab lolo, opposite the above quotation, a marginal note,

"Dugdale's Warwickshire,"p. 116. t"Ormerod's History of Cheshire."

written by one of the two, reads as follows—"Llwyd, blessed, hence Daw Iwyd, etc. "This will suffice, by way of illustrating the former meaning of the word, though it would be easy to multiply instances from the works of the Welsh bards to prove that it was then used. The works of the bards from the earliest times to the Reformation are full of apostrophies to the Virgin as "Mair."


Certain feasts, which may seem connected with the Mari Lwyd, were established, one was called Feast of Fools, and the other Feast of the Ass, in the year 990, by Theophylact, Patriarch of Constantinople.* Beletus states that the Feast of Fools was held in some places on New Year's Day, and in others on the 12th of January, while in some it was observed the following week. These feasts were held in the most amusing manner. In France it was observed as follows—The "Bishop," or the"Archbishop of Fools" was appointed and in the neighbourhood adjoining the metropolitan see, the"Pope of Fools"was elected. These had their proper official vestments, and made gestures on the stage, opposite the church, before the people. Their conversation and gestures were highly unbecoming; their faces were blackened. Some appeared in female attire and made coarse and lewd signs; sang immoral songs; ate pudding at the end of the altar, played at dice close to the priest when celebrating mass, censed him with the smoke of old burnt shoes, running and leaping in church. The Bishop or Pope of Fools, while celebrating, was robed in priestly vestments, and when he had finished he was placed in an open carriage drawn by a throng of clergy and laity, who threw mud and dirt over the bystanders. It must be recollected that those were the ages, very properly called  "dark."

Consequently, Gregory (Bishop of Neocaesarea, who died in 265) established holy days or feasts in memory of saints and martyrs, in lieu of the feasts of the pagans, in order to facilitate their conversion. The Christian feasts, therefore, were held instead of the pagan feasts, and grew like unto them, such as the observing of Christmas with joy and merriment, eating and drinking, and every kind of mirth and amusement, instead of the Bacchanalia and the Saturnalia, the first of May with flowers, instead of the pagan Floralia, and the feasts of the Virgin, John the Baptist, and several of the Apostles, instead of heathen institutions on the appearance of the sun in the different signs of the Zodiac, **(Some sections of the priesthood went so far in its observance of feasts of this kind in imitation of pagan practices, that Boniface is said to have "complained of certain German priests, who, though professing Christianity, sacrificed bulls and goats to heathen gods."

The tenor of Pope Gregory's letters to Milletus, the abbot, on the eve of dispatching for Britain, in the sixth century, is to the same effect. Milletus is enjoined to instruct Augustine, Archbishop of Canterbury, that"he (Gregory) having given much thought to the case cf Britain, adjudged that the temples of the idols, which that nation

*"Warton," II., 569. **"Turner's History of England, "Vol. II., p. 340.

possessed, should not be destroyed, but be sprinkled with holy water, and certain relics deposited in them. Also, inasmuch as the ancestors of the people sacrificed oxen, they be permitted to slay kine or oxen, and build huts of the branches of the trees that grew around the temples, on the day of the dedication of the latter, which were the birthdays of the martyrs and saints, whose relics the temples contained, and hold a comfortable religious feast"*

The above quotations illustrate the beginning of several feasts and customs which are still, to some extent, in vogue, but were once more so up to a recent period in the Principality. We find the origin of our May--day festivities in the pagan Floralia. It is from those we have the floral decorations, the rosettes, the ribands, and the summer dances of the North, the bearing of the may--pole, the lifting of the birch--bough in South Wales and in England. We will now confine our remarks to the feast of Christmas, though it will be necessary to notice now and again how customs have been shifted from one part of the year to another in some districts, while they are only occasionally observed in some localities. Christmastide commenced on Christmas eve, and sometimes extended over a fortnight, and at some periods we find that the holy season was kept up during December, January, and February. It was during this season mystery plays were acted, feasts given, and sports and festivities of various kinds indulged in. Now were held the Feast of Fools, already described, the Feast of the Ass, the Boy Bishop, besides the religious interludes before referred to. We now proceed to describe briefly the Boy Bishop and Feast of the Ass, which had some features in common with the Feast of Fools. It was in the Feast of the Ass, more particularly, our institution of Mari Lwyd originated.

The Boy Bishop was elected as were his two deacons. He was escorted to church, wearing a mitre, by a choir of boys, where he officiated at a sham service. Thence he and the deacons went from door to door to collect money—not to beg for it as charity, but to demand it as a right. The bishop was elected on December 6th, and held office until the 28th, or Innocents' Day. It would be too long a task to notice everything that took place on these occasions, but some discription is necessary by way of explanation. The feast and the boys were under the protection of St. Nicholas, by reason of the miracle attributed to the saint of bringing to life again the bodies of young boys who had been killed and hacked to pieces. This custom was observed in this country for about six hundred years, and such sanction was given to it by the church, that it was an honourable and legitimate feature of our religious life. Every respect was paid to the bishop as to a real bishop, when alive and at his funeral when dead. Sometimes beautiful effigies in marble were raised to the memories of these bishops, some of which are still extant.** This parody was prohibited

*"Side's Eccles. History of LnVan 1,"Vol. VIII., p. 94.
**"Brand,"Vol. I., p. 332.


by Henry VIII., and again by Elizabeth. Then commenced the practice of playing soldiers, and the election of captain and other matters were proceeded with. But as this latter custom was not under the aegis either of the church or the state, it naturally declined by degrees, and in many places it has died out completely. But in Gwent it is now almost as well known and flourishing as in the time of Henry VIII. In North Wales, and other parts of the Principality, not to mention England, nothing of it remains save that children go about asking for gifts, and collect half--pence from door to door. In some places this is done on New Year's Day, in other places on any day within the season. It helps to show that Gwent and Morganwg are more tenacious of ancient customs than any other portion, not only of Wales, but of the kingdom, as will be seen in the case again in the Feast of the Ass, which is the original, it would appear, of Mari Lwyd.

In the course of the year, there are three Feasts of the Ass, especially in Gwent and Morganwg. One commonly observed is Flowering Sunday, in memory of Christ riding on an ass to Jerusalem.* In observing this feast formerly it used to be the custom to prepare a wooden ass, on which was placed an image. This was then placed on a stage, which was moved about on wheels, and decorated with branches and flowers. The stage with its contents was then drawn towards the church by the people, going in procession and carrying branches in their hands. On arriving at the church door they were met by the priest, who blessed the branches. The branches were henceforth looked upon as a protection against losses from tempests that year in the case of those who carried them. Then the priest bowed himself before the wooden ass, lay on his face until another priest appeared touching him with a long rod. On his rising up, two other priests fell down and sang a chant in that posture. Then they would all rise up, and took the stage with the ass to church, where the ceremony was completed. Another Feast of the Ass commemorates the ass of Balaam. That was held at Christmastide. A third was in memory of the flight of Joseph and Mary with the young child into Egypt, also held at Christmas on the I4th of January. These last two in course of time became mixed up in some respects. The latter of the two was originally held as follows:— To represent Mary and her son, they sought the fairest female they could find, with a pretty child in her arms. The virgin and the child were placed on the back of an ass, the animal being prettily dressed. The female preceded the bishop and priests in a procession to church and to the altar. Mass was then celebrated, and at the close of each petition, gloria patri, and the creed, &c., the people would say, Hiu hau, hiu hau, in imitation of the braying of an ass. The priest, instead of saying"Ita missa est,"at the close of the mass, ended by singing three times, Hiu hau, hiu hau, hiu hau, and verses were sung during the service in honour of the ass. The music was purposely irregular, wine was drunk, and given to the ass, and dancing took place around it. Then, having well feasted, the ceremony was completed by acting one of the mysteries already referred to.

*"Brand," Vol. I., p. 107.

This, methinks, was the origin of what is now called Mari Lwyd. The above feasts were recently held in other countries, and we read how the Feast of the Ass was celebrated pretty much in the above manner in Ireland a few years ago. A beautiful woman represented Mary, with a comely child in her arms, riding on an ass, and a religious service of some sort performed.

It would seem that Mari Lwyd contains mixed features of the Feast of Balaam's Ass and the Feast of the Flight into Egypt, with the religious acting referred to already. The now "blessed" (llwyd) compels us to take the virgin into consideration. Again the fact that the ass's, or rather in recent times the horse's head. The head used in former times was that of an ass, within the recollection of many old people still alive, but on account of the scarcity of asses' heads it became necessary to use what most closely resembled an ass's head, and then the horse's head came in. The fact that this head talks in the play, compels us to believe also that Balaam's ass was originally a feature. Again, the dialogue employed by the different characters reminds one of the presence of the mystery element in Mari Lwyd. Possibly the following quotations from the Builder, for July 31, 1847, will convey some further idea of the religious plays refered to, as well as the vestments and instruments employed. These plays were so popular that all expenses were defrayed by the corporation. Sharp, the distinguished antiquary, in course of his investigations, came across some old accounts belonging to the Corporation of Coventry. He gives several quotations which throw light on the mode of conducting pageants in those days, and states they contained some items too immoral for publication. The following quotation shows that the corporation paid a salary to the actors, according to their ability, possibly:—

(ed. note: amounts not legible in text)

Item --paide to the sprytt of God,
Item—payd to the ij angellcs,  
Item— payd to the demon,  

It may be the following refer to the play of the judgment:—

I'tem—payd to vj white soules, .
Item—payd to vj blakke soules,

Thus the"blakke soules"got more than the others.

I'em—to ij sprytts,

I'tem—payd ij wormes of conscience,

In 1573 the player's name is mentioned who represented two characters in the same drama:—

Payd to Fawston for hanging Judas,
Pd. to Fawston for coc--croying,.

In 1578 we have:—

Pd. for a new hoke to hang Judas, .

A curious item this:—

Item—for mendyng the deville's cole.

Item—for making the sollys cottys,
Item—for the spritts of God's cote,  
Item—a hat for Pilate.
Item—for mendynge the devyls bede.
In 1477:—

Item—for mendyng the demons garment.
Item—payd for a stage for the demon,

In 1480:—

Item—payd for mendyng Pilats hat, .

Payd for mendyng the wyiv.le,.

Payd for a new roppe for the wynd,


Payd for pare of angyllys wynges,

There are instances of these plays being performed as late as 1817 and 1822 in different places, but maybe the above quotations will suffice on this head. Though it became necessary to leave out the religious character of these plays in this country, yet the people would not let go the amusement they afforded, and they were turned into secular observances, as we have already seen.

The well--known institution Mari Lwyd has nowhere been kept in Wales so like the original as in Gwent and Morganwg, assuming one's supposition as to its source to be correct. In other districts of Wales we only find a few indistinct traces of the thing. Looking to North Wales, all we find there as having relation to Mari Lwyd is the custom of "giving a skull," as it is there called, which is as follows:—Young men go in search of a horse's or an old ass's head. The latter is preferable if it can be found. If there be a woman to whom they wish to show incivility, or on whom wish to wreak vengeance for some unkindness, the horse or the ass's head (as it chances to be) is hung up in some place by the time she gets up on the first of May. Unless matters turn out successful by that date, the ceremony is delayed until May Day, a fortnight later. Sometimes the skull is put up on the door, at other times over above it. Generally, the men folk are up early on that day in order to find whether a skull has been left for a woman or for the women there, and read the name or names it heads, lest the woman gets about first and throw the skull away, and spoil the whole game. Having discovered that a skull has been left, the fact excites merriment and laughter to the whole company, family, or neighbourhood at the expense of the woman or women who may have been unfortunate enough to have been presented with a skull. Sometimes several skulls are found at one house, all intended for the same woman. But when a young man wishes to show his respect and kindness to a woman, he prepares a bouquet of pretty flowers, which he places in some convenient place above the door, as in the case of the skull, that the bonnie lass who is thus the object of affection may find it on the morrow. It would appear that it was from Mari Lwyd or the Feast of the Ass this curious custom of giving a skull must have been derived, and that the giving of a she ass's skull at first signified a taunt or charge of some shameful practices on the part of the woman. The skull represented the Virgin Mary, Mari Lwyd pure and holy, as contra--distinguished from all impurity, unchastity, or any other uncleanness, and in strong contrast to the woman who becomes the object of disrespect. Also it would seem that the date was changed from Christmas to May Day in order (it being the season of the floralia) to get a time of year convenient at once to express honour by the giving of flowers, and dishonour by the presentation of the skull, thus emphasising the distinction made by the contrast that is between the two.

Looking at matters in other districts in the Principality,Dyfedr which contains the counties of Carmarthen, Cardigan, and Pembroke or Radnor, and the extreme point of Brecknock, contains but few traces of Mari Lwyd, or any of the feasts mentioned above. There we find the wooden horse brought into use to mark infidelity on the part of the husband or the wife. Doubtless the idea sprang from the same source as the skull custom in North Wales; Mary, on account of her purity, being placed in contrast with the publicly immoral, or those thought to be so.

The wooden horse ceremony is performed in this manner:—Having discovered that conjugal infidelity exists in the neighbourhood, without waiting for a certain fixed season of the year, such as Christrnastide or May Day, to notify the fact, the intended disrespect is shown as soon as possible. A wooden horse is prepared, a number of people congregate together, bringing with them all the necessary instruments, such as old frying--pans, and tin vessels, horns to blow in, with everything calculated to make sufficient noise, so as to give publicity to the disgrace of the offenders. We seem to see the crowd now approaching the house of the guilty party, armed with all the implements above mentioned. The evil--doer has already seen them coming, who, feeling guilty and aware of the custom, needs no prophet to tell him the purport of this visit of the populace who have come to do him "honour." However, he is determined to bolt and secure the door, so that not a living soul can come in. But the friends are not to be thus defeated in their object. They make for the door, burst it open, and bring out the culprit, whom they set on the back of the wooden horse. Some person known for his wit and eloquence is appointed spokesman, whose duty it becomes to relate the sins of the fellow who sits on his wooden horse in a conspicuous place. Then the din commences, in one clamorous chorus, no matter whether grave or gay the character of the rattle and noise of the vessels and the horns, alt that is cared for is the quantity and not the quality of the hubbub. The tin vessels are beaten furiously and the blasts of the horns are terrible. The procession wends its way through the principal streets, and in order to give the discipline a religious finishing, the crowd make for the church, and turn three times round the sacred edifice. This turning round the church has ceased in some places, but was a common practice some forty years ago in administering this mode of punishment. But should the offender escape, or in some way elude his pursuers, the spokesman then would mount the wooden horse. Occasionally, also, the guilty parties were placed together on the back of the horse. This custom is in full swing up to now, at least in some neighbourhoods. We recently read an account of a similar event in Cardigan, and the matter in the end went to the law court. The case was reported in "Cronicl y Cymry." There still prevails in Pembrokeshire, and in certain localities in the adjoining counties, a custom which, doubtless, is related to Mari Lwyd, for all that one can make out. We refer to the custom locally known as "mynwenta" o r"penwenta." It is difficult to make out the meaning of the word in this relation, but the custom has so many features like Mari Lwyd that it is thought the two were originally identical. In country places farmers are so scattered that young folk are unable to meet each other except occasionally. But about the spring or beginning of May, when the farmer brings a cart--load or two of corn to be ground in the mill, it is customary to attend to the task the night through. Young people of both sexes are told, somewhat privately, that the "mynwent" or "penwent"of so--and--so is to be at the mill on such and such a night. Then a horse's head is prepared in a manner similar to that in use in acting Mari Lwyd, so that it can be made to open and bite. Dialogues and every kind of merriment follow, very much the same as in Mari Lwyd, as will be more fully explained again. The practice may have fallen into disuse now. My informant had himself been engaged in this kind of play some thirty years ago.

Another custom is also met wiih in those parts of Wales, called "Bwca Llwyd," which must have been derived from Mari Lwyd, not only on account of the name, but also because of the similarity of features in both institutions. This custom is as follows:—A horse's head made of canvas is prepared. This is painted and stuffed with hay. A hay fork, the blades covered over with leather, does duty for ears, the handle being manipulated by the person inside, who guides the movements of the head as he wishes. I am told that this is taken round on All Hallow's Eve. It will thus be seen that the time at which Bwca Llwyd is played does not coincide with either the Saturnalia or the Floralia, but follows the sports and pastimes observed at the season of All Saints. The bonfire or coelcerth night in the North, Scotland, and other places, nut cracking, eating apples, candle lighting, with several other amusements, seem to have sprung partly from Druidic and partly from mediaeval rituals. It cannot now be ascertained why "Bwca Llwyd" is played at this time of the year in particular.

We now come to the Mari Lwyd institution, as performed in Gwent and Morganwg, as well as in some parts of Brecknockshire, &c.

The chief theatre of the custom is Monmouth and Glamorgan, and this name is used only in those parts. Proceed we to describe the play as acted in its greatest splendour by the Gwent folks themselves. As may be seen the Feasts of Balaam's Ass, and the flight of Joseph and Mary with the child to Egypt, with the dialogues spoken by the several characters in the different religious dramas performed during the festive seasons, form features of the Mari Lwyd play. Before Christmas comes round the young folk look out for the head of a horse, or a mare, or that of a he ass or she ass. It is worthy of notice that the head employed some time ago, was invariably that of an ass, but now it is of no importance whether it be that of an ass or a horse, both being indiscriminately used. Having found a head, a wooden arrangement is provided in lieu of a jaw, which has a spring attached so as to enable it to open and shut, at the command of the manipulator, to bite people, to eat grass, to neigh and do other things besides speaking. The head is decorated with ribands of various colours, and feathers are placed on the few parts remaining undecorated. The head is provided with a mane, and a pole is driven through instead of a backbone. A canvas cover is placed over the and also over the man who steers the apparatus, which is now called a"Mari Lwyd,"and is the principal actor in the play. The frame--work is made to resemble a real head as closely as possible, and now the remaining characters are appointed. These sometimes are four singers, with, perhaps, two to represent Punch and Judy. Two of the characters are called sergeant and corporal. But these are not invariably the same. Sometimes one of these plays a fiddle and does the work of merryman. Thus the number, the work, or the costume of the actors is not uniformly the same. The costumes of all concerned, if possible, are clean and tidy, and gaily dressed with ribbons, and sometimes broad and pretty sashes are worn round the waist. The company start on Christmas eve, and are engaged in the play for a fortnight, three weeks, or even a month.

The play is conducted in the following fashion:—Having arrived, say, at some respectable house, the six men—Mari Lwyd, the leader, the sergeant, the merryman, and Punch and Judy—now start singing short verses craving for admittance. The husband, or someone else inside acquainted with the play responds, and refuses entrance. Should the person inside show greater aptitude than the Mari Lwyd without, or the person versifying, then it is legitimate to keep the party out of the house altogether. But usually, after a lengthy dialogue, they are permitted to go in. Instances are known of such dialogues being conducted for an hour or more. The following is a specimen of the dialogue in use:—

* For the literal translation of these verses we are indebted to Mr. T. C. Evans (Cadrawd), in whose"History of Llangynwyd,"a variant can be seen at p. 161.

Mari Lwyd (Loq.)


1 Wel, dyma ni'n dwad,

Gyfeillion diniwad,

I mofyn am genad

I ganu.


2 Whech o wyr hawddgar,

Rhai gora ar y ddciar,

I ganu mewn gwirar

Am gwrw.


3. Ma ffashwn cwnsela,

Er's mil of flynydda,

A hyny miwn ffurfia,

Gwna brofi.


4. Cenwch eich gora,

Felly gnaf fina,

A'r sawl a fo ora

Geiff gwrw.





5. Mae'm dawn I'n cynhyrfu

Wrth feddwl am ganu,

Y nos yn y gwely

Mi goeliaf.


6. Mi ganaf am wythnos,

A hefyd bythewnos,

A mis os bydd achos,

Baidd ichwi.


7. O, tapwch y faril,

Gollngwch yn rhigil

Na fyddweh ry gynnil

I ganwyr.


8. Mae mari Lwyd lawen,

Am ddod I'ch  ty'n rhonten,

A chanu yw 'I diben,

Mi dybiaf.

1. Well, here we come,

Innocent friends,

Asking permission

To sing.


2.Six amicable fellows,

The best upon earth,

And truly to sing

For beer.


3. The fashion of wassailing

Is since a thousand years

An old form (or custom)

I can prove.


4. You sing your best,

And so will I,

And whichever sings best

Shall have the beer.





5 I am moved by the gift in me

When thinking out my song,

Even at night in my bed,

This is true.


6. I can sing for a week,

Yea, for a fortnight,

Or a month, if required--

A challenge to you.


7. O, tap ye the barrel,

Let it run freely,

Do not be saving

To singers.


8. Mari Lwyd the cheerful,

A frisker, would enter,

And to sing is her object

I trow




* For the literal translation of these verses we are indebted to Mr. T. C. Evans (Cadrawd), in whose"History of Llangynwyd,"a variant can be seen at p. 161.

The Response (inside.)


9 Rhoweh glywed, wyr docthion,

Pa faint y'ch o ddynion,

A pheth, yn wych union,

Yw'ch enwa?


10. Rhoweh glywed, gyr difrad,

O b'le 'r y' ch chi'n dwad,

A pheth y'ch gofyniad,

Gaf enwi?


11. Mi gwnas o'r gwely,

Gan lwyr benderfynu,

Y gwnawn i dy facddu

Di'n foddus.


12. ' dwn gwiw I chwi scwto,

A chwnu'r latch heno,

Waith pyrdydd diguro

Wyf, gwiriaf.


13. I ffwrdd a chi'r Hadron,

Ewch ymaeth yn union,

Ni chewch chi yn hylon

Fy ngwelad.

9 Let us hear, wise men,

The number you are,

And what your names may be



10. Let us hear, not treacherous men,.

From whence you come,

And what is it you ask,

We demand.


11. * I rose from my bed

Fully determined

Of beating you



12. You need not push

And raise the latch to--night,

Because I am an unbeaten poet,

And that I will prove


13. Away with you, robbers,

Depart at once,

You shall not merrily

See me.


From Without


Mi ganaf am flwyddyn,

Os caf fi Dduw'm canlyn,

Heb ofni un gelyn

Y gwylia.

14. I will sing for a twelvemonth,

If God will follow me,

Without fear of any foe

This holiday.




From Within.


15. Mac Jenkins, y fleirad,

Yn dyfod, ar fenad,

Gna fe I chi fynad

O f'annedd

15. Jenkins, the parson,

Is coming, upon my soul,

He will make you go

From my dwelling.




Then Mari Lwyd advances, to leader taking hold of the rein, and before the house is entered, some verses like the following are sung:----

From Without

16. Y tylwyth teg o'r teulu,

A ddewch chi I'r gola heb gelu,

I weld y wassel yn ddiath,

Ni does ei bath yn Nghymru.



17. Mae'n berlian o lydan floda,

O lwyrfryd heirdd a lifra,

Rhibana gwyehion, brithion braf,

A lunikwyd yn ddolena.




18. Mae'n gaseg lwyswedd wisgi,

Mae miloedd yn 'I moli,

Ei phen yn gnotog enwog iawn,

O foddion llawn difaeddu.



19. Daw'r sergeant gwych a'I gwimni,

Yn wrol I'n blacnori,

At ye gwaith mae eto I'w ga'l

Wych, wastad gorpral gwisgi.


20 Daw'r oslar gyda'r gaseg,

A ledia hon yn landeg,

A'I ffrwyn n'I gyfrwy gydag e,

I rodio'r lle dan redeg.


21. Daw hefyd Bwnch a Shuan,

Ar unwaith o'r un anian,

Dau filan draw, 'run lliw a'r drwg,

Neu'r annedd fwg ei hunan.


22. Yn awr 'rwy'n darfod cannu,

Rhowch imi I ymborthi,

Blwyddyn newydd dda I chi gyd,

A phawb o'r byd serch hyny.

16. The good people of the family

Will you bring a light from your biding,

To see the wassail without shock

(or painful sensation),

'There is not like unto her in all Wales.


17. She is an orchard of flowers,

Displaying beautiful livery,

Gay ribbons of many colours,

Artfully tied up in knots.





18. She is a mare of holy and brisk appearance,

There are thousands praising her,

Her head eminently knotted

With material which cannot be surpassed.


19. The brave sergeant and his company

Will boldy lead us,

And for the work we also have

A gallant and an alert corporal.


20. The ostler attending the mare

Will lead her comely and fair,

Bringing with him his bridle and saddle,

To step the pace and run about ( or trot around.)


21. There will be also a Punch and Judy,

Both of the same instinct,

Two villainds of the colour of the evil one,

Or of the chimney place itself.


22. Now, my song is ended,

Allow us to be feasted,

A good New Year to you all,

And all the world"for all that."







Aftewards Mari Lwyd goes in, first to the women, with puffing, snorting, neighing, pretending shying, and showing various equine antics, besides conversing.  The merryman with his fiddle follows, performing every funny trick he can. They then sing the verse----


Wel, dyma'r hoenus feinwen,

Sy'n codi gyda'r seren;

A hon wy'r wassail wych ei chlod,

Sy'n caru body n llawen.

Here is the blithesome maiden

Who rises with the star,

She is the wassail of far fame

And loveth to be merry.




Then Judy comes, carrying a broom to sweep the hearth. After her walks Punch, and throws Judy down. A scuffle ensues. Punch afterwards kisses the women, and Judy pursues him with her broom.  Then, having sung, danced, and played sufficiently long, all sit at the table, and are treated to meat and drink.  Having acted the whole drama they sing:----


Duw rhoddo I'ch lawenydd

I gynnal blwyddyn newydd;

Tra b'o crwth a thincian cloch,

Gwell, well, y b'och chwi beunydd.


Ffarweliwch, foneddigion,

Ni gawsom roesaw ddigon;

Bendith Duw f'o ar eich tai,

A phob rhyw rhai o'ch dynion.

May God give you happiness

With the new year;

As long as crwth or bells shall  sound

May you fare better daily.


Farewell unto you, gentlemen,

Our welcome has been plenteous;

Blessing of God be on your home,

And each one of your people.

* In these verses singular and plural are mixed up; this is accounted for by the

way the answers were given: when the Wassailers sung together the introductory

verses they sung"we,"but when it came to"fioncio"—making rhymes at the

time in answer to each other—it was left to one, and he, of course, would say,"I, rose from my bed,"&c.

The description of the action of this improvised drama, and the opening verses given above, in which many expressions witness to an ancient origin, have led the writer to connect the custom with the festivals fully illustrated in the early portion of the essay, and thus Mari Lwyd (Blessed Mary) reminds us of the flight to Egypt and the equine or asinine discourse of the Feast of Balaam's Ass, while the dialogues and characters recall Coventry with its mysteries and other dramatic representations.

Note: Bibliography, &c.—In addition to the information given by this article, further notices may be found in a paper by the late Mr. David Jones, of Wallingford, in"Archseologia Cambrensis"for 1888, p. 389; in"British Goblins,"by the Hon. Wirt Sikes, and in"The History of Llangynwyd Parish,"by Mr. T. C. Evans  (drawd), 1887, p. 161 (all in the Cardifl Free Library.) At the Cardiff Museum, in the"Old Fashion Collection,"may be seen a specimen of the ornamental horse's head used in the custom of"Mari Lwyd,"which was obtained by Mr. T. C. Evans for illustration of the paper by Mr. D. Jones above cited.

-- Roberts, The Rev. W., (Neeydd), "The Mari Lwyd and its Origin", Trans.: W. Eilir Evans, In: Reports and Transactions-- Cardiff Naturalists' Society, Vol. 28--34, 1896 p. 80.

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Mary Lwyd, Wirt Sikes, 1881. 


Among Twelfth Night customs, none is more celebrated than that called Mary Lwyd. It prevails in various parts of Wales, notably in lower Glamorganshire. The skeleton of a horse's head is procured by the young men or boys of a village, and adorned with 'favours' of pink, blue, yellow, etc. These are generally borrowed from the girls, as it is not considered necessary the silken fillets and rosettes should be new, and such finery costs money. The bottoms of two black bottles are inserted in the sockets of the skeleton head to serve as eyes, and a substitute for ears is also contrived. On Twelfth Night they carry this object about from house to house, with shouts and songs, and a general cultivation of noise and racket. Sometimes a duet is sung in Welsh, outside a door, the singers begging to be invited in; if the door be not opened they tap on it, and there is frequently quite a series of aiven sung, the parties within denying the outsiders admission, and the outsiders urging the same. At last the door is opened, when in bounces the merry crowd, among them the Mary Lwyd, borne by one personating a horse, who is led by another personating the groom. The horse chases the girls around the room, capering and neighing, while the groom cries, 'So ho, my boy—gently, poor fellow!' and the girls, of course, scream with merriment. A dance follows—a reel, performed by three young men, tricked out with ribbons. The company is then regaled with cakes and ale, and the revellers depart, pausing outside the door to sing a parting song of thanks and good wishes to their entertainers.

The penglog (a skull, a noddle) is a similar custom peculiar to Aberconwy (Conway) in Carnarvonshire. In this case the horse's skull is an attention particularly bestowed upon prudes.

Mary Lwyd may mean Pale Mary, or Wan Mary, or Hoary Mary, but the presumption is that it means in this case Blessed Mary, and that the custom is of papal origin. There is, however, a tradition which links the custom with enchantment, in connection with a warlike princess, reputed to have flourished in Gwent and Morganwg in the early ages, and who is to be seen to this day, mounted on her steed, on a rock in Rhymney Dingle.1

1Vide W. Robcrts's ' Crefydd yr Oesocdd Tywyll,

--Sikes, Wirt, British Goblins: Welsh Folk Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions, 1881, p. 256.

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Mari Lwyd, Thomas Christopher Evans,1887

Wassailing.This again was a new year's custom, and was the occasion of most elaborate preparations of the "Mari Lwyd" (Holy Mary), the actors in which were the following:—First and foremost was the head of a horse fantastically decked with ribbons, and draped with white. Beneath the drapery was concealed the bearer of this "Mari," whose duty it was to make the necessary genuflexions and bows outside the doors of those who were visited, while "Punch and Judy"—also dressed in character—accompanied him, as well as a party of men, chiefly selected for being ready rhymesters, witty companions, and for having a most exemplary thirst. The party, thus composed, halted at the doors where they believed they would be welcomed, and where good cheer was usually bestowed. At their coming the doors would always be found closed and barred.

The whole party then began (to a tune that seems to be somewhat doleful, although it must be owned melodious,) to chant some introductory verses,—craving, first of all, for permission to sing; then recounting the perils and trials of the journey thither; and most feelingly concluding with an appeal to those within, to be liberal with the cake, and especially to tap the barrel, and distribute its contents freely. To this, those inside the house would reply—pleading that they had no cake, no beer, no anything; upon which those outside would again most pathetically entreat the mercies of the season.

Upon this would commence a conflict of wits,—those inside proposing in rhyme, sung to the tune aforesaid, riddles, or questions to those outside, and being answered by them in rhyme also. Most important it was that each party should be ready in their wit, adepts at rhyming, and able to mix a little sarcasm with the dialogue which they conducted. This conflict of wits was carried on till one party was defeated. If those outside were the conquerors, they were admitted to the house, the wassailing bowl was produced, and the feast was commenced. One of the ancient wassailing bowls is still preserved at the Vicarage. It has a capacity of about a gallon and a half; it has eighteen handles, but some are now knocked off. Each of the company took hold of a handle, and in turns drank—probably enunciating some verse, or toast, previously.

The following are a few specimens of the introductory rhymes, sung in the Parish:

Wei, dyma ni'n dwad,

Gyfcillicm diniwad,

I ofyn cawn genad—i ganu.

Os na chawn ni genad,

Rhowch glywed ar ganiad,

Pa fodd mae'r 'madawiad—nos heno.

Ni dorson era crimpa',
With groesi'r sticeila',
In dyfod tnag yma—Dos heno. . —--

Os aethoch rhy gynar,

I'r gwely'n ddialgar,

O codwch i'n bawddgar—roesawu.

Y deisen fras, felus,
A phob sort o spices,
O torwch hi'n radus—y gwyliau.

A thapwch y firil,

Gollyngwch yn rhigl,

A rbenwch e'n gynil—y gwyliau.

The challenge from without:—

Os oes yna ddynion,

All blethu englynion,

O rhowch i'n atebion—nos beno.

The following was sung, when the "Mari Lwyd" was introduced to the company inside --

Wel dyma'r hoeous feinwen,
Sy'n codi gyda'r scren;
A hoc yw'r Wassail wych ei chlod,
Sy'n caru bod yn llawen.

Before leaving, if the Wassailing Company had been hospitably entertained, they sang the following verses:—

Duw rhoddo i'ch lawenydd,
I gyoal blwyddyn newydd;
Tra b'o crwth a thincian cloch,
Well, well, y b'orh chwi beunydd.

Ffarweliwcli, foneddigion,
Ni gawsom roesaw ddigon;
Bendith Duw f'o ar eich tai,
A pbob rhyw rhai o'ch dynion.

--Evans, Thomas, Christopher, History of Llangynwyd Parish, 1887, p.160.

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The Mari Lwyd: A Twelfth Night Custom, David Jones, 1888

The rapid decay and disappearance of old customs which the latter half of the nineteenth century has witnessed is a matter of such common observation that it has become the merest of truisms to speak of it. Many old observances which this century had inherited from a long line of predecessors have now ceased to be found even as "survivals"; if met with at all, I apprehend it would be only as "revivals", produced as something strange and rare for the amusement of the curious. Thus it has come to pass that the special local observances and rural pageantry which in Glamorganshire, on and about Twelfth Night, wound up the festivities of Christmastide, are no longer to be met with as part of the life of the people "Canu Gwassaila" and the going about with a "Mari Lwyd"—customs common enough in the forties and fifties of the century—must now, I suspect, be classed with the things of the past. Both customs — for they certainly were each of distinct origin—were known by the one name of"Canu Gwassaila", or even more commonly,"Singing Gwassaila."But, while the"Gwassailwyr"proper needed not to trouble themselves with providing a "Mari Lwyd" , those who went about with a"Mari Lwyd"were perforce obliged to “Sing Gwassaila." Singing was part of the performance, and tradition provided them with no other song. Of the two names, the first is self--explanatory: it is the"Singing of Wassail"; the second, in its application at least, is not very clear. The word "Lwyd" means "Blessed." How the name "Blessed Mary" has come to be applied to the skeleton of a horse's head, decked with ribbons and other finery, as will be presently described, is a question easier put than answered. An attempt, however, will be made to explain its application; and the conclusions arrived at may or may not be acceptable. What follows on this subject will be taken chiefly from a contribution of my own to a Glamorganshire newspaper in 1878—one of a series of papers on local folk--lore—in which the Christmas and Twelfth Night customs of Glamorganshire were dealt with at length. To the theory I then advanced I still adhere, and I fancy it has since been adopted elsewhere.

By the kindness of a friend at Llangynwyd there was exhibited at the late meeting of the Association at Cowbridge a very fair representation of a "Man Lwyd." It was not (as it turned out) a veritable "Mari" which had gone the ronnd of the parish, but had, in the previous winter, been specially got np to aid in the illustration of a lecture on Glamorganshire Customs delivered at Maesteg, and some of the details it had not been thought necessary to reproduce for the occasion.1 It was enough like in appearance to answer the purposes required.

The "Gwassailwyr" pure and simple were a body of rustics who enlivened the season, both for themselves and their neighbours, by going about from house to house singing the Wassail song. It was sufficient for the occasion if they blackened their faces, wore rough masks, or disguised themselves in any manner, and the rougher the disguise the better. One of them should be in woman's clothes, to play the part of "Bessy." Bossy carried a besom; the others had staves, with which, when the in--door fun began, they belaboured each other's sides and backs in a manner which would have been painful to behold if one had not known that each and all were pretty well protected by straw under their puffed--out garments. At the door of the house they wassailed they began with the following song, to a traditional tune, which I doubt not is still well known:—

I.                                                               III.

"0 dyma ni'n dywed                                    "0 tapwch y faril

 Gym'docon dinuwad,                                   Gyllynwch yn rhigill, &c.

I ofun cewn genad, &c                                  Nos heno..                                                           

I. ganu



II.                                                                          "A'r deishan             fr/as felus

"Os na chewn ni genad                                           A phob sort o         spisus

Ni drewn ar y nailldu, &c.                                        A gatwyd yn garcis, &c.

Nos heno.                                                              Y gwyla.


"Cei'r g/wyla mynd heibo                                              Ond ni sydd yn cofio, &c.

Heb neb dod i'ch cofio?                                                                      Nos heno!"

These were verses of obligation: when these had been sung then, possibly, would come the tug of war. It was a recognised part of

1The "Mari" which was exhibited has since been presented to the Museum at Cardiff, and I understand that the energetic Curator of that institution has since obtained another from Lantwit Major, which had seen actual service in that parish.

the custom that if any one inside the house replied, those outside must answer, and so a musical dialogue would be kept up until one or the other of the two parties would be unable to respond in impromptu verse. When at last they obtained admission, it would be well if ample space had been cleared for them in the kitchen or other suitable apartment wherein they might display their antics. A good deal of "horse--play"would be indulged in, for the licence extended to the season by prescription would be availed of to the utmost. They should by right have with them a wassail--bowl, or that which is, I believe, its proper Glamorganshire substitute, namely, a feol made of Ewenny ware; but the "survival" of these articles within the time to which my own memory extends was a common bucket, or even, it might be, a tin can! Whichever vessel it may have been, it would be passed round, or at least you would be offered a mugful of drink out of it, while it was of course expected that the master of the house would do his part in keeping it pretty well replenished from the"barrel", which in song they had already asked should be "tapped" for them. Finally, the jingling of coins in a battered tin vessel, which did duty for a money--box, would be heard, and when this appeal had been responded to the Wassailers would take their departure, singing ere they went a valedictory stanza outside the house door. The words of this closing verse I do not remember.

For the "Mari Lwyd" much greater preparation was required. Indeed, it took the long evenings of several weeks beforehand to get everything necessary for the success of the pageant, and put all in apple--pie order. Why, the "Mari Lwyd'' was the pride and admiration of the whole village! Everybody almost would have had a hand in the adorning of it and in decking out these "Gwassailwyr"—mothers, sisters, sweethearts—all!  The lads who formed the party came dressed not only in their"Sunday best", but in great bravery of ribbons of many colours (cheerfully lent them by the women) superadded to coats and hats. If ribbons were not abundant enough, the want would be supplied by a sort of frilling of coloured paper. The "Mari Lwyd" itself, however, has not been described. The basis of the structure was, as has already been stated, the skeleton of a horse's head. This was padded on the outer side, where the flesh had been, and then covered into shape with white calico. The jaw was so fastened as to move up and down easily, and could he--made to "bite" at the will of the man who played the part of"horse." Eyes were made out of the bottoms of broken beer--bottles carefully chipped round, while the ears would be of felt, leather, or any suitable material. The whole would be decked with"ribbons so plenty"that the"Mari"was indeed a sight to see! There was also some arrangement to give the appearance of a neck, and over this from the head there depended a long and large sheet or loose gown of calico, which served to conceal the young man who gave life to the "Mari." A smart "groom" had charge of the"animal", which he led by a long rein of wide scarlet braid. The number of the party would be regulated by liking or convenience, but they were usually about six. They also sang at each door they went to about three verses of the Wassail song already given; upon the fourth they changed from Welsh to English, thus:

"We've got a fine Mary,
She"s dressed very pretty
With ribbons so plenty

This Christmas."

This is how it would be managed in the bilingual district comprising the Vale of Glamorgan. In the northern parts of the county the singers continued in Welsh, thus:


"Mae Mari Lwyd yma
Mae'n werth i gael gola',
Yn llawno rhubana,

Y Gwyla!"

After this intimation it was not usual to challenge them to a musical parley from the inside; they were generally admitted at once. They brought with them no "survival“ of the wassail bowl, such as we have seen the"Gwassailwyr"proper had, as an inseparable adjunct to their perambulations, and their proceedings indoors were of a more orderly character than what has been already described. Still there was a good deal of romping. If there were any young women about, they came in for the not very welcome attentions of "Mari" , who ran after them, pretending to bite, and so forth. It was all meant in harmless fun, and the whole proceedings generally promoted a good deal of it. They would have beer given to them, and, possibly, a piece of cake each. They, too, had a money--box. On leaving, the strain sung by this party, at the door, was—

"God bless the ruler of this house,
And send him long to reign,
And many a merry Christmas
May he live to see again.

And God send you a happy new year."

There seems to have been, eighty or one hundred years ago, a sort of unwritten law that the "Mari Lwyd" of one parish should not intrude within the bounds of another. If this were done the intruding party did so at its peril; for if it were so met by a "Mari Lwyd" party of the parish intruded upon there would be a battle royal between them, and each would do its best to destroy the "Mari Lwyd" of the other.

It will, I think, be at once conceded that in this rustic pageant of the "Mari Lwyd", or the"Blessed Mary", we have had amongst us the survival of part of some ancient popular rite or ceremony. Is it not the last remnant of the once highly popular "Festival of the Ass"? This festival was held on the 14th January, and commemorated the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. An ass decked in rich robes or trappings was led to the high altar of the parish church, and a special service performed in its honour, the responses to which were an imitation of the hee--hawing of the animal itself. After this ceremony a girl and child, personating the Virgin and Child, mounted the ass and were taken round the parish. A wooden ass was sometimes used, and lay figures representing the Mother and Child placed thereon. In either case the perambulation of the parish seems to have been an essential part of the proceedings. What more likely, then, than that the"Blessed Mary", which so many generations of our Glamorganshire lads took so much pains to get up, deck so bravely, and carry from house to house with so much mirth and revelry—a horse's head with a man concealed under it—was a direct representative of the animal on which the "Mary" of olden time made a tour of the parish upon? Adopt this view, and the name"Mary"appears as a natural heritage which clung to the fragmentary part of the paraphernalia of the old festival which descended to our own time. As the "Festival of the Ass" was very commonly observed in pre--Reformation times, we might expect to find that traces of it remained to a late period in other parts of the kingdom besides Glamorganshire. I have discovered that it was not unknown in Moumouthshire; that, however, is very near our own borders. But there are evidences of somewhat similar"survivals"in places as remote as Lancashire on the one hand, and Kent on the other. In Lancashire they amused themselves on Twelfth Night by carrying round the semblance of a horse's head; while in Kent they still, I believe, "go a hodening" on this night, the "hoden" being a horse's head carved in wood, which is carried about to the accompaniment of carol singing and hand--bell ringing.

Objection may perhaps be taken to the solution here offered on the ground that the day of the celebration of the"Festival of the Ass"did not coincide with the "Festival of the Epiphany";  that the two observances were distinct, and were never likely to be commingled. Whether there is a lack of likelihood in this or not, I have, I think, shown pretty plainly that the Twelfth Night customs of Glamorganshire were of a twofold character, certainly of a twofold origin, and were partially, at least, commingled. We must remember that in pre--Reformation times the festivities of the Christmas season were kept up until Candlemas. After the Reformation the natural tendency of the times was to shorten them. Herrick, however, gives us to understand that in his time the Christmas decorations were kept up until the Feast of the Purification. The Puritans, as we know, did what they could to abolish Christmas revellings altogether. They were powerless to do this, from the hold which these had upon the minds and affections of the people. But they accomplished two things: (1) they shortened the duration of the period of licence and buffoonery; and, as a natural consequence, they (2) displaced and threw into some confusion the several popular observances which had served to mark  the prolonged course of the festival. The processon of  the “Blessed Mary” was of too popular a character to be thrown aside altogether; rather, therefore, than lose it, the day of its celebration was thrown back by popular consent ten days in the calendar, and was held on (and after) the 6th of January, instead of the l3th, and was allowed to share the honours of Twelfth Night rejoicings with the "Gwassaila."

Of wassailing itself much might be said, both as to the mode in which the custom was observed in Wales, and also under the wider view of its observance throughout the country. This, however, I will not touch upon. It will be sufficient to say that there are several Welsh wassailing songs in existence, Miss Jane Williams of Aberpergwn has preserved two for us in the collection of Ancient National Airs of Gwent and Morganwg, published at Landovery in 1843, namely,"Y Washael", at p. 30, and "Hyd yma Bu'n cerdded", at p. 31. Hone, too, in his Ancient Mysteries Explained, gives the translation of a very curious one by "Thomas Evans", which is well worth study for the allusions it contains, and which I elsewhere have attempted to analyse. These are in print, and accessible to all. The inquirer who wishes to pursue the subject further will, if he is industrious, find several more in manuscript.

I ought, perhaps, to add that since the meeting at Cowbrulge I have been shown a Welsh essay upon the"Mari Lwyd", but was not able to do more than glance at it. I regret to say that I did not note, and do not remember, the author's name. It would seem to have been published about 1882. The wassailing song contained several more verses than I have given; but the greater part were quite new to me, and I venture to think would not be generally known in Glamorganshire.

--Jones, David, "The Mari Lwyd: a Twelfth Night Custom", Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1888, p.389.

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Mari Lwyd, The Link to Wassail and Origins, --C. Lorwerth Peate (1943)


1.               Peate describes wassailing outside of Glamorganshire. Peate equates wassailing with Mari Lwyd house visiting customs.

2.               In Carmarthenshire,  Mari Lwyd is called  “Y Warsel (The Wassail).”

3.               In Anglesey the custom “cau yn y drws” or “singing at the door” is similar to the Mari Lwyd. Young men went from house to house. They sang carols and asked to come in. Once they were inside they were given beer and cakes. This was also done in Cardiganshire.

4.               Peate notes that according to  Edward Jones, “canu dan bared” or “Singing under a wall” is "common in Merionethshire on Christmas Eve.  If the people under the pared have the superiority in singing and wit, they claim admittance into the house, and a right to participate in the fare of it.”

5.               J.H. Davies correctly assumes that “Mari Lwyd” was just a south Wales variation of a country-wide custom. 

6.               In regard to “Welsh Wassail-songs” or “Canu Gwirod:”

They are linked to “Gwyl Fair” or “the Festival of Mary” or “Gwyly Nadolig” or “Christmas.” Peate cites Parry Williams who had quoted a wassail song which began:


Arfer y nydolig yw

rhodio/r/ nos Ile bytho gwiw

I edrych ple bo diod dda…



(“the Christmas custom is to roam at night where it is meet to look for a place where there is good drink…”)



7.               The festival of Mary described above was “Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau” or the “Festival of Mary of the candles, the Purification of Mary, the 3rd of February.” This was also linked to Christmas.  This association led to the titling of a wassail song: “Can Gwirod neu Wyl Fair” or “Drinking Song or the Festival of Mary” which was most likely written by Gruffydd  Phylip, a poet of the early seventeenth-century. This song was published by Mr. W. Ll. Davies, librarian of the National Library of Wales in his study of the poet’s work. “It was a custom to bear drink at the Festival of the Virgin Mary at the beginning of spring.


Every happy man loves to remember with joy

Mary the daughter of Anna…

To her was born the son of the Just God on Christmas Day, revered festival. 

The Festival of Mary too is a delightful festival.

Mary went meetly to the church,

with virgins from the locality,

Their candles all alight,

The purification of Mary, all with their drink meeting her.

If God the Father gives us permission,

we shall drink to the dregs.

We shall drink the Health of the generous

without any mention of the misers…”


Peate notes that the poem demonstrates that:

a.                The “bearing of drink” was linked to the “beginning of Spring.”

b.                The custom had something to do with remembering Mary.

c.                Christmas was a “revered festival” associated with the custom.

d.                The festival referred to is only that of the Festival of the Candles and the Purification as is described.

8.               Peate notes that the term “wassail” with its meaning “be whole, be healthy” is inherently linked to the act of purification. This celebration occurred from December 25 to February 3.

9.               Peate notes that many songs begin with:


“Llyma wirod Mair yn dyfod

er mwyn Mair wen byddwch lawen


("Here comes Mary's drink, for the sake of holy Mary, be joyful"”.)


10.            It is noted that the Mari Lwyd verses begin with an introduction


Wel dyma ni'n dwad (Here we come) and a reference to the "joyful" state in Mari lwyd lawen (joyful Mari Lwyd.)


11.            A wassail song. “carol gwirod” cited by W. Ll. Davies. starts with this phrase. Because Wales tended to be “nonconformist.” medieval songs to Mary fell into disfavour. Because of this some of the controversial references were removed while non-controversial references remained.

12.             Peate notes that “Mairi” is the Welsh equivalent of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The word “Mari” meaning the colloquial form of the personal name Mary at one time was used to refer to the Holy Mother (in the “Black Book of Carmarthen” as well as in the poems of the bards and early Welsh princes).  It is found as well as “Mair” in wassail songs such as:


Y glan angel, hwn oedd Gabriel,

voi kyfarchodd...

kyfawn wy ti o ras, Mari.



(the fair angel, this was Gabriel, greeted her: thou art full of grace, Mary.)



13.            Peate notes that Parry-Williams suggested that the wassail songs are both “the development and the deterioration of a long--established custom.  At first there is the “pre-Christian” custom of initiation of the spring. This was then associated with Christian festivals held during the late winter and the festivals of Mary and her son which occurred in the early spring. This is reflected in the opening stanza of the song above:

Roedd yn ddefod mynd a gwirod

Gwyl fair forwyn ddechre gwanwyn.


(It was a custom to bear drink at the Feast of the Virgin Mary at the beginning of spring.")




14.            Peate proposes the following evolution: “The pre--Christian players emphasized the beginning of Spring; the Christian singers laid importance on the Feast of the Virgin Mary.  In time Mary's drink lost its former significance and connoted only feasting, drinking and play--acting.  The songs lost their medieval religious references and became catalogues of the food, drink and money which the players sought.”


--Peate, Lorwerth, C., "Mari Lwyd: A suggested Explanation", In: Man. Vol. 43, May--June, 1943, pp.53--58.

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The Three Merry Dancers of Wales, Lois Blake (1958)


1.   Mrs. Lois Blake, President of the Welsh Folk Dance Society, writes:

“Mrs. Lowe's reference to the "three merry dancers of Wales"(JEFDSS, 1957, p. 80) is surprising.  The much quoted account in the Gentleman's Magazine, to which she refers, reads: "The merry dancers---usually three persons. Frequent, but no universal accompaniment of this merry dance, are the conspicuous but grotesque figures of "Punch and Judy."


2.   "Merry Dancers," or Punch and Judy, processed through Glamorganshire teaming up with wassailers to gain entrance to houses where they otherwise would not be welcome.

3.   A report in Archeologia Cambrensis, 1888, describes “two parties of Gwassailwyr (Wassailers.) The Gwassailwyr proper sang a Wassail song, carried a wassail bowl, and were roughly disguised with blackened faces.  They carried staves with which they beat each other,” "being well padded with straw under their puffed out garments."  Punch and Judy often cam with them.  They sang verses of the Wassail song, outside, sometimes having a musical contest. If those inside could not respond then the , Gwassailwyr  were admitted.

4.   Gwassailwyr also had Mari Lwyd men. They were dressed “in their best, but profusely decorated with ribbons.”  The Mari was  a horse's skull, mounted on a pole. It was carried by a man, “covered in a white cloth, was also decorated, being the pride of the village.”  The  same Wassail song was sung but  with an additional verse:----


"We've got a fine Mari, She's dressed very pretty,

With ribbons so plenty, This Christmas."


5.   In South West Glamorgan the Mari men were let right in without rhyming and there were no Punch and Judy.

6.   Mrs. Thomas of Nantgarw (N.E. Glamorgan) remembered observing the Mari Lwyd, often with the Punch and Judy. “Punch carried a long poker, with which he tapped the ground while singing went on.  Judy, the tallest man in the party, carried a broom and swept the ground, the door, the windows and any person who was incautious enough to come near.  Only a woman with a baby in her arms would be safe from the brushing.  If the inmates heard Punch, with his poker, outside, a rhyming contest was sure to ensue; and the rhymester inside would be careful to exact a promise that he would not rake out the fire.” When the Mari Lwyd men go in the horse leader would drop the reins and do a step dance with Punch and Judy. The Mari would champ her jaws while the rest of the group kept singing. The rhyming contest was to makes sure the Mari behaved but also to required the Punch and Judy to refrain from their antics.


 The "Three Merry Dancers of Wales" remain elusive; unless we identify them with the Mari men or the Mari Lwyd and her merry men.”


--Blake, Lois, "The Three Merry Dancers of Wales",  In: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vol. 8, No. 3, December, 1958. pp. 166--167.

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The Mari Lwyd Song, Traditional

Well, gentle friends
Here we come
To ask may we have leave
To ask may we have leave
To ask may we have leave
To sing.

If we may not have leave,
Then listen to the song
That tells of our leaving
That tells of our leaving
That tells of our leaving

We have cut our shins
Crossing the stiles
To come here
To come here
To come here

If there are people here
Who can compose englynion
Then let us hear them now
Then let us hear them now
Then let us hear them now

If you've gone to bed too early
In a vengeful spirit,
Oh, get up again good–naturedly
Oh, get up again good–naturedly
Oh, get up again good–naturedly

The large, sweet cake
With all kinds of spices:
O cut generous slices
O cut generous slices
O cut generous slices
This Christmas–tide.

O, tap the barrel
And let it flow freely;
Don't share it meanly
Don't share it meanly
Don't share it meanly
This Christmas–tide.

--National Museum of Wales,

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The Story of the Mumbles Horse's Head (Mari Lwyd)

Gower journal of the Gower Society.

Vol. 21,, 1970

The Story of the Mumbles Horse's Head (Mari Lwyd) by M. BOWDEN (An old lady's account of the Mumbles Mari Lwyd, illustrated in Gower V) IT WAS NEARLY 100 years ago that the Mari Lwyd started in Mumbles. My father, the late William Jenkins, was a lad of sixteen and his brothers and pals used to go out at Christmas time with the ram's head, but they were getting too old for that. They heard there was a Horse's Head up the Valleys. It so happened there was a young horse called Sharper that used to come up from Gower with the vegetables every week and the boys used to mind the horse for the man to get on with his rounds. This horse died and the boys decided to dig up his skull for they knew where it was buried in a field, at Barland. This they did and brought him back and buried him in lime and when it was nearing Christmas they brought him up again. Now they had the job of putting him together again. They joined his jaws with wire and put a block of wood between them and a broom handle to hold him and he looked well, for he still had all his teeth as he has today. They made eyes with the bottoms of dark glass bottles. Now he was ready for my grandmother to dress him. This she did by making a cover for him so she could pin on the ribbons and rosettes and a man could hide beneath it. Now they wanted a mane for him-this they made out of rope and he looked fine. Many of these have been made since and they are still made in the same way. They could not sing Welsh and had to make up a song of their own and this same song has gone down through the years. So Sharper started to go out every Christmas and everybody used to sing with him on Christmas Eve as he came down through the village. It wasn't Christmas unless you had seen him. The party of about twelve men used to walk for miles around the district about a fortnight before Christmas. He became so well known that they were invited to parties to sing for the guests around the big houses, and they used to give Sharper oranges, apples and mince pies. This of course was done by the man under the sheet. He would open his jaws with a string and take them through (this would always get a good laugh). The man who leads the horse was called the Horseler. He would be dressed up in a top hat and a tail coat and after the singing he would collect the money in his hat. If they wanted an encore they would sing "The Mistletoe Bough". And so it went on down through the years until my father had his own family. All my six brothers had their turn picking the party to go with the horse. They always finished up by our front door to sing for my mother before they shared out the money on Christmas Eve. This went on till my brothers left home, all but my two youngest, then they were drowned in the 1914 war and Sharper was put away and forgotten. After the War the boys of the village who came back asked mother if they could bring him out again. My father let them, as he was too old to go and so Sharper was out again for a few more years. By this time my sisters and I had grown up and my mother taught us how to dress him up. Time went on and we lost both our parents in 1936. My husband and sisters carried on with it until the next war came and Sharper was put away again. My sister and I thought to put him in the Swansea Museum but we could not part with him. So time went on and, the war over, out he went again till we both lost our husbands. And that was the end of Sharper until I was asked, by an old Mumbles man, to bring him out again for a concert. So this we did a few years ago. This year (1969) he has been to three different places so the old Mari Lwyd is still not forgotten in Mumbles. I am the youngest daughter of the late William Jenkins and still live in Woodville Road, Mumbles.

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MARI LWYD. Mr. Thomas Young

Monmouthshire Merlin - Saturday  December 31, 1864

MARI LWYD. Mr. Thomas Young, of the New Inn, Rlica(?) sends us the following as explanatory of the origin of the practice of exhibiting the figure of a decorated horse's head at Christmas time, termed in the Welsh language y Mari Lwyd.

 ” I now wish to lay before the readers of your valuable paper a few particulars on the, subject, which I have gleaned from ancient history and tradition. In the latter part of the 15th century, and near Christmas time, the town of Caerleon, in the county of Monmouth was in danger of being besieged; the offending party were in ambush in two neighbouring woods, Lady hill and St. Julian's. A strong party for the defense were stationed in the castle at the north-west end of the then wooden bridge spanning the river Usk. A sergeant with nine men were stationed in the village on the south-east side of the river, in order to watch the movements of the enemy. Late in the evening, two days before Christmas, the lookout party saw a personage in female attire, mounted on a grey steed, slowly descending the hill leading to the bridge, and apparently taking a  strict survey. It being a very unseasonable hour for any lady of the neighbourhood to be coming that way they at once suspected the personage to be a spy, and lay concealed until the object of their suspicion had passed without seeing them. On coming to the bridge the steed made a momentary stand, then slowly paced forward upon the bridge; when about the center the sergeant with his nine men ran upon the bridge and blew a signal horn immediately the norh-west end of the bridge and road were blockaded with armed men, on which sight the intruder turned the steed, and tempted to force a way back through the minor party, One of the party seized the rein of the bridle the steed instantly became restive until another succeeded in striking the animal on the forehead with the pole of a battle axe, and felled it on the bridge. No sooner was the steed down than the rider placed his hands on. the rail of the bridge, and sprung over it into the tide, which just then was returning from its flow.

A passing cloud obstructing the light of the moon at the time they could not see whether their lost victim was bourn away with the tide or a swam to land, but  most probably the latter, as early the following morning the enemy evacuated the wood., and did not attempt the besieged The party not having captured the rider, cut off the head of the steed, tied it upon a pole, and exhibited the same through the streets, receiving gifts and applause for their heroic actions. After exhibiting the head for several days, they attempted to embalm it for an annual exhibition, but not being skilled in be art of embalming, it proved a failure. During the hot. nights of summer the head became disfigured and in a putrefying state near the year's end all putrefying substances were cleansed from the bones, and the skeleton fixed upon a short pole and covered with grey cloth, attaching thereto artificial ears of leather and eyes of glass the bridle, being decorated with ribbons, was

Placed thereon- A sheet was also attached to the back part of the head with a small opening in front, under which went a man to bear the figure; another stood behind bearing the reins of the bridle as- a guide. In this they sallied into the street, followed oy the rest of the party. On coming to the door of any respectable dwelling they sang in the Welsh language, naming what they were, their number, and asking admittance.

Wel dyma ni' dwad. gyfeillion diniwed

T'eh cegin nei i'ch parlwa

Na i eich neuadd os cewn ddod

Ni din i fod ond deg wn, &c., &c


On being admitted the horse figure and guide first entered and surveyed all within. The rest of the party would then rush in, on which the figure would pretend to be restive, bite or run over any that came in its way, till one would seize the rein of the bridle, and another strike the figure on the forehead with a small wooden axe provided for the purpose. The figure would then fall prostrate upon the floor, the leader disappears. This ended the first part of the performance. The concealed would then come from under the sheet, fold it up, and lay the head aside the disappeared re-enter; one of. the party would then produce a violin and play a hornpipe: and the party, with any who choosed to join them, go through a country dance. This concluded the performance. Having received what gift, the inmates choosed to present them with, they returned to the door, and sung a departing song of praise, thanksgiving, and long life to the inmates,

Farwelwch wir bonddigion

 Ni gawsom roesaw ddigon, &c., &c.

 -then left for the next station.

 In the following year several parties procured skeletons of horses' heads, which they decorated in like manner, and exhibited in all the towns, villages, and respectable dwellings for many miles round—the practice of which has more or less been kept up to the present day. The foregoing account gives the origin of the Mari Lwyd.

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Merthyr Telegraph, and General Advertiser for the Iron Districts of South Wales - Saturday 24 December 1859

... Then, among the final incidents, we have the "Mari Lwyd," a procession, not of "stalwart men and chiefs of fame," but beer loving worthies, who, carrying a faint resemblance to a horse's head, go and parley at public-house doors, displaying at times considerable wit in their efforts to gain admittance. When the landlord is not an adept, one of the band enters, and, closing the door, submits the others to a severe cross-examination, "replies them with curious questions, as to their business, etc,, till, being defeated, which always happens, the door is opened, and in "rush the worthies, to demand and obtain a liberal allowance of beer gratis, gratis. "Mari Lwyd," or "Blessed Mary," is believed to be a remnant of papist times; but it should be the head of an ass, not a' horae, as the Flight to Egypt," 0f 'Mary, Joseph and Christ is intended to be symbolized. ts every man to do his duty."

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WIEN 1882.




Prncipit ludus Marie Magdalene in gaudio.a)



Ludus Mariae Magdalenae in gaudio.



Proclamator v. 1— 25,

Lucifer und sechs Teufel 26 —151,

Die neun Seelen des Schneiders 152—167,

Schusters 168—181,

Räubers 182—193,

Bäckers 194—201,

Wirtes 202 — 207,

Schülers 208 — 227,

der Buhlerin 228 — 243,

des Schreibers 244—265,

des zweiten Schülers 266 — 295.

Die Teufel gehn zu Magdalena 296 - 309,

Gesang der Engel 310—313,

Magdalena singt, Chor der Teufel 314— 350.

a) Magdalena und die Magd 351—369,

der Buhler und die Kupplerin 370 — 443,

b) der Buhler und Magdalena 444 — 464,

c) Magdalena und Martha 465 — 484,

a') Magdalena und die Magd 485 — 509,

b'J der Buhler und Magdalena 510 — 519,

c') Magdalena und Martha 520 — 539.

b") Magdalena's und des Buhlers Wettgesang 540 — 623,

c") Martha warnt zum drittenmal 624 — 627,

b'") der Buhl er wird abgewiesen 628—657.

Der Buhler, sein Diener und die Kupplerin 658 — 669.

Martha bekehrt die Magdalena 670—707,

Christus verzeiht der Magdalena 708 —713.

Primo angelí cantaiit: Silete!

Deinde proclamai or ludi precurrens dicit rikmum:

Hôrt, îr herren all sampt,

als euch got hat her gesaut!

welt îr sagen hôren,

so soit îr uns nicht wetorn;

5 tut zu den mund und auf den leip

îr jungen und ir alten weip,

îr warm und îr ehalten!

an veisten sol niemant verzagen,

durch red wîrt manig man erslagen;

10 da von sweigt an diser frist,

wann in der null pôs hárphen ist,

und lñsent unserm reimen zü —

di sind hubsch als ein chü —

und uneern hubschen warten,

15 die reiment sich chaum an dem dritten chrautgarten.

nu merkeht an tinser große zîr,

es reimt sich umb uns als ein altes panzîr.

zu chlughait chñn wîr unmaß vil,

als ein chue zu federspil.

20 wer dar über unser spott,

es sei Hainreich oder Ott,

6 f.) Vielleicht: ir alten und ir jungen weip, ir warm und ir ehalten,

ir jungen und ir alten! Vgl. III, 64 f. paide gross und chlain, chlain

und groß.

a) Zur Aufschrift vgl. S. 105 Maria in gaudio und v. 376 Maria in

frauden. — 11 Vgl. M. Haupt z. Neidhart 69, 38.

96 IV, 22 — 51.

dem wünsch ich, das er sich ervall

als ein veder ab einem stall.

da von sñllt îr still dagen,

25 das euch icht werd ein plater an dem chragen.

Tune Lucifer sedens super sedem vocans diabulos:

Nu wol her auz hellen,

lieben mein gesellen,

nü wol her all mein genaßen,

di mit mîr von himel sein gestoßen!

30 nü sagt mîr allgeleich,

mit weu chñnt îr do dienen meinem reich?

Primus demon (licit:

Herr, ich haiß Sathanas,

der ie der pest was.

du mâchst gern merkchen,

35 wie ich dein er chan sterkchen:

ich chan mit hochfart und mit fras

die lâut machen also las,

das si dein aigen müßen sein;

nü hôr, lieber herr mein:

40 di phaffen zu der geitichait,

di frau zu der eitelhait,

di Juden zu gesüch,

di armen zu dem fluch —

so pin ich auch der pot,

45 der mit haimleichen rat

[der] Adam und Evam hat wetrogen,

und hab seu zu der hell gezogen.

siech da mit dien ich dîr,

mit we wild du lanen mîr?

Lucifer dicit:

50 Hab dankch, lieber Sathanas,

der mîr ie der pest was!

22) wusch. — 23) eimê.

26 f. = Haupt's 0. Sp. 36 f. vgl. Innsbr. Auferst. 271 f. Redent. 0. Sp.

373 f. Hess. "Wein. Sp. 718 f. Hall. Pass. (Öst. Revue 1866, I. H. S. 30). Alsf.

P. Sp. 133 f. Kunz. Fr. Sp. v. 111 (Bauer). — 28 f. = Alsf. P. Sp. 159 f.

Künz. Fr. Sp. v. 203 f. (Bauer) u. ö. — 32 f. Vgl. Haupt's 0. Sp. 64 f. Wien.

0. Sp. 304, 17. Hall. Pass. 97, 2 (überall der ie wider got was). — 42 Vgl.

Sterz. 0. Sp. 164, 18. — 50 = Haupt's 0. Sp. 74.

IV, 52-83. 97

ein feurein chron,

di gib ich dîr ze Ion.

nü nim der teufel mer mit dîr

55 und pring di sel all mîr,

so wil ich seu verslikchen

in meinem ars dikchen.

Seenndus demon dicit:

Herr, ich haiß Astaroth,

ein fraisleich teufl wider got.

60 es sei der sneider mit der ellen,

oder der weber mit dem gestellen,

oder der fleischhakcher mit der parten,

oder der scherer mit der Charten —

ich wil dîr sagen das end:

65 wo ich mich hin wend,

so schaff ichs nach dem willen dein.

siech herr, das ist der dînst mein.

Lucifer vocat tercium demonem et dicit:

Tutivill, Tutivil,

wie leist du so still,

70 wo piet du so lange?

du nrîist werden erhangen.

TntiYill dicit:

Waffen, herr waffen,

wi übel han ich das verslaffen!

ich het ein fraun || gar betrogen, 12 Ъ.

75 das ich sei in di hell het schîr gezogen;

di ist mîr nü entrunnen

und ist warden zu einer nunnen.

das si uns nit warden ist,

des mus ich in di hell zu diser i'rist.

Qnartus demon dicit:

80 Herr, ich haiß Rosenchranz,

zu frawen spring ich an den tanz,

ich wehig seu vil snell,

ob si mîr icht gevell;

58) astatoth.

52 f. = Haupt's 0. Sp. 63. 62. vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 201 f. 232 f. Kunz. Fr.

Sp. S. 352, v. 212 f. 106 f. 128 f. — 58 = Alsf. P. Sp. 386.

Dt. Kummer, Erlauer .Spiele. 7

98 IV, 84—115.

ich streich in ein salben unter di augen,

85 do mit si got müßen verlaugen,

und vach seu an mein sail,

das sie uns werden zu tail,

und pring si mit mîr in di hell.

nu prelle herr, prell!

Quintus demon dicit:

90 Herr, ich haiß Lasterpalkch,

zu allen dingen pin ich ein rechter schalkch:

ich chan wol lern liegen

di man, das si weip wetriegen,

da mit si uns allen

95 in der hell werden gefallen;

ich wartt auch ein ganze wochen,

unz das vîr oder fünf werden derstochen,

rauber und spiler,

prenner und würfltrager,

100 heler und steler,

pader und laßer,

pheiffer und paukker,

pusauner und gaukkler,

di pring ich all mit mîr herein.

105 was sol wesen der Ion mein?

Lucifer dicit:

So gib ich dîr ze Ion,

ein feureine chron.

Sextus demon dicit:

Herr, ich haiß Kottîr,

ein teufel hübsch und zîr.

110 ich pin nur schônr fraun chnecht,

den ich zu dînst pin recht;

wann ich chan se wol zîren

und chan in das har wol florîren,

ich chan auch machen goldvar

115 zôph, lôkch und das har,

93) di weyp das si weyp.

86 Vgl. Hess. Wein. Sp. 763. 793. — 89 = Spiel von den zehn Jungfrauen

(L. Beckstein) 26, 1.

IV, 116-147. 99

das stet so minnichleich

eben siecht und dar zu geleich;

ich durchgrab mit allem fleis

di mündelein in sôlher weis,

120 das si rosenvarb werden gevar

und manig man sein augen wendet dar,

das si ze chaîner stund

haben gesehen so raten mund;

ir hâlslein mach ich liligenweis,

125 gespilteu augen mit allem fleiz.

herr das hab ich gelert,

Iones pin ich wol wert.

Lucifer dicit:

Nottîr, ich gib dîr ze Ion

in der hell ein feurein chron,

130 de ist wol umbhangen

mit natern und mit slangen.

Lucifer saltando super sedem dicit: a)

Incafatus pratus, vultus chüsultus,

spentus rimentus, horante corante,

mulsus molsus, schibuntus truncus,

135 hanglangko langko, polf'ortus stortus,

schygo ertrigo, râkus protâkus,

propdesancus, ein teufel haißt lankus!

das sind de teuflischen wart,

di îr oft habt von mîr gehort.

140 nu wol her auz der helle grunt,

chômt zu mîr an diser stund,

vart auz in di lant,

weit lat euch sein wechant;

wetriegt und liegt, was da ist,

145 mit eurr 1er und list,

betriegt auch di nunnen,

di alten und di jungen,

125) gespiltn.

a) Über den Höllentanz vgl. Mone II, 81 zu Redent. 0. Эр. 1328, Wacker

nagel Kl. Sehr. I, 313. Alsf. P. Sp. S. 4. Haller Pass. 98, 14 bis 21. —

140 f. Vgl. Künz. Fr. Sp. v. 205 f. (Bauer).


100 IV, 148-179.

und pringt zu diser zeit

neun und nâunzikch alter weib!

150 îr teufel, das sei euch gesait,

wer das tut, dem tun ich nicht laid.

Et currunt pro animabus. Primus demon dicit ad animam:

Nu dar, wi lang wild du hî stan?

du soit mit mîr zu meinem herren gau,

von wann du pist chumen.

155 dein wain 'chan dîr nicht frumen,

di sel und der leib dein

müs ewichleich verlorn sein.

Et portat animam ad Lucifernm, qui dicit:

Sag an, sag an, was hast du getan,

das du so jâmerleich vor dem gericht müst stan?

Prima anima dicit:

160 Herr, ich pin ein sneider,

ich pin got gar unmâr:

ich verstal di abschraten,

di ploben und di roten,

di swarzen und di weißen,

165 des mus ich di hell wescheißen;

ich well oder ich enwell,

ich mus in di hell.

Lncifer dicit:

Sathanas, lieber gesell,

trag mîr den sneider in di hell!

170 hola her, hol her,

pring mîr der selen mer!

Secunda anima portatur ad sedem demonis:

Herr, ich pin gewesen ein schüster,

ich pin got gar unmâr:

ich leg die sollen zu dem feuer

175 und prat se ungeheur,

das si verprinnent gar;

das sag ich euch fürbar,

mit derselben arbait

ich hab verdient di wîrdichait,

162—165 = Innsbr. Auferst. 394 bis 397. — 169 Vgl. Redent. 0. Sp.

1449 f. — 174 = Redent. 0. Sp. 1397 vgl. Innsbr. Auferst. 368.

IV, 180-209. 101

180 das ich ewichleieh verdampt bin;

in di hell müs ich hin.

Tercia anima dicit:

Herr, ich pin gewesen ein rauber,

ich pin got gar unmâr:

ich nam die merhen all,

185 ich fund se ze wald oder in dem stall;

des hab ich verdient gotes zarn,

owe das ich ie ward geporn!

Lucifer dicit:

Seid du verdient hast gotes zarn,

so müst du in meinen ars varn;

190 dein sünd habent dich verraten,

ich wil dich sieden und praten.

paid her in di hell mein,

îr teufl, ir helft all schrein!

Quarta anima dicit:

Ich pin gewesen ein pekch,

195 ich püch ze chlain wekk,

wan er mich daucht zu groß,

so prach ich ab ein stoz

und warf in under di chleiben;

dar umb müs ich übel gedeihen. ,

200 mit der selben arbait

hab ich verdient di ewig pitterchait.

Quinta anima dicit: ||

Ich pin gewesen ein leutgeb 13a.

, und het das stât in meiner phleg,

ich gab chlaine maß,

205 ich laicht di leut mit großem haß,

mit überraitten und pargen; '

dar umb pin ich in großen sargen.

Sexta anima dicit:

Ich pin gewesen ein schüler

und der goczdiener

202) leytgeb.

189 Vgl. Red. 0. Sp. 1803. — 196 bis 199 = Innsbr. Auferst. 267-70

vgl. Redent. 0. Sp. 1364 f. — 204 Vgl. Innsbr. Auferst. 382.

102 IV, 210 — 243.

210 und dient îm mit zuchten und mit ern

und gedacht îm sein dînst ze mern,

dar umb sol ich nicht in di hellen

mit den posen gesellen.

Lucifer dicit:

Pist du gewesen ein schüler

215 und ein hubscher minner

und der goczdiener,

so han ich wol vernomen mâr,

das di schñler sein schoner fraun dîner,

wann si sind all gilt minner.

220 es sein greuleich chnecht,

si mugen mîr sein nicht gar recht

und furcht, châmen si mîr in di hellen

zu den andern mein gesellen,

si würden mîr prñeder machen an der muter mein;

225 das müset mîr ein groß laster sein.

si chumen hin ein nicht,

ich hab mit in chain phlicht.

Septima anima dicit:

Herr, ich pin gewesen ein schone maid,

chainem chnaben hab ich nie versait;

230 das machten mein schôn chrânze,

wann ich cham zu dem tanze,

so traib ich soleich hochfart.

das ist mîr unz her gespart;

nu tñ mîr gñtleich, lieber herre,

235 des pitt ich dich sere.

Lucifer dicit:

Wir sullen das magdein laßen gan,

si hat es durch hubscher chnaben willen getan;

si sol fliehen da hin,

das ist unser gewin.

240 ' nu spring hin gar bald

und gewer di chnaben manigvald,

und eher dich nicht an der weit chlaffen

und schaffe, was du hast ze schaffen!

222-24 Vgl. unten v. 286 f. und Haupt's 0. Sp. 233 bis 236. —

232 f. V&I. Haupt's 0. Sp. 245 f.

IV, 244-277. ЮЗ

Octava anima dicit:

Genad herr Lucifer,

245 ich pin gewesen ein stolzer Schreiber,

all mein sargen

di warn schôn fraun unverpargen.

ich was ein schreiber also stolz,

all fraun warn mîr hold,

250 ich chert all di sinn mein,

wi ich pei in mocht gesein,

sie hetten mich zu dînst aus derchorn;

soll ich dar umb sein verlorn?

herr maister, ich sag dîr das,

255 du sollt wissen an allen has,

chum ich in di hell zu der müter dein,

îr müßt all mein stefchinder sein.

Lucifer dicit:

Nu hôra, hôra, hêra,

was spricht der stolze schreiber da?

260 snell sleus zu das helltor

und laß den stolzen schreiber da var;

chumpt er in di hell zu der muter mein,

wîr müßen all sein stefchinder sein.

tragt in hin under di schônen weip

265 und lat in chuelen seinen leip!

Nona anima dicit:

Ich pin auch gewesen ein schueler

und ein hübscher minner;

si hies Mâtzel oder Trugart,

ich var îr in îrn rauhen part;

270 sie haiß Chundel oder Tâusche],

ich var îr in den rauch rêuschel;

dar zu so haiß ich der Smekchenstrüczel,

chum ich îr auf îrn hñtzel,

ich rür îr den part,

275 das si wânt, ich haiß Ekhart.

wann mein vater wand, ich wâr ze schuel,

so was ich an der loterfftr;

245 Vgl. unten v. 602 ff. und Weinhold in Goache's Jahrbuch S. 26. —

256 f. = 262 f. 286 ff. vgl. Innsbr. Auferst. 404 f. - 274 f. Vgl. Ш, 134 f.

104 IV, 278 — 310.

als mein muter wânt, ich les den salter,

so mint ich ein nunn hinter dem alter,

280 ich fûrcz in das glokhaus

und macht jung münich dar aus.

Lucifer dicit:

Hôr an, hôr an, Sathanas,

wie ein minner das was!

Sathanas, lieber gesell,

285 sperr mîr vor dem schüler di hell

und châm er auf di muter mein,

er machet jung teufelein;

so mñsten chlagen al di teufel di da sind,

di würden all steuf chind.

290 chain schueler ich nicht wißen will,

wan si chñnnen aller lotrei vil.

ge hin zu den hübschen weiben,

mit den solt du dein zeit vertreiben!

Allium currit vias et dicit:

Da mit so lauff ich enwekch,

295 her teufl, habt euch mein drekch!

Lucifer dicit:

Hôrst du, gesell Sathanas,

der ie wider got was,

es wil îczund her aus gen

ein frau, haißt Magdalen;

300 di ist ein frau so zart,

si phligt in unserm dînst großer hochfart.

wîr schullen pei îr beleiben

und iimb sei gen zu einer scheiben,

da mit wîr gesellen

805 dem hübschen weib gevallen wellen,

und süllen sei vahen an unser sail,

das si uns werd ze tail,

damit pringen wîr sei gen hell.

prelle herr, prell!

Deinde cantant aiigeli Silete etc. et vulgariter:

310 fr swaiget lieben lâute,

310 bis 313 Vgl. Haupt's 0. Sp. S. 369, wo durch Pueri cantant: silete

von der Teufelsscene immittelbar zur Magdalenenscene übergegangen wird.

IV, 311-333. 105

und lat euch das bedâuten

von unserm herren Jhesu Christ,

der von dem tod erstanden ist.

Deinde exit Maria in gaudio cum ancilla.a) Et ipsa cantat:

Wârleich, zîr di ist gut,

315 si geit den läuten hohen mut,

so wil ich auch dar nach ringen

und wil gute liedlein singen.

Et tunc cantat :b) ||

* Mundi delectacio dulcie est et grata, 13b.

* eins conversacio suavis et ornata.c>

Et cantat rikmum:

* Ich wil preisen meinen leib

* mit tanzen und mit raieD —

320 * wan ich pin ein schônes weip —

* den phaffen und auch den laien.

* das ist war, des müs ich gehen, das ist ane laugen,

* schoner weip ward nie geporn offenwar an taugen.

Et dicit rikmum :

Nempt war, îr stolzen laien,

325 gegen disem maien

ich wil preisen meinen leip,

wenn ich pin ein schônes weip;

da von wil ich tanzen und springen

und gut liedlein singen.

330 * Ja ließ ich meinen mandel in der aue,

* Do wegund mich frogen meine fraue,

* wo ich gewesen wâre;

* des dâucht ich mich so spâhe;

b) 0hne Zeilenabsatz von gleicher Hand: Verte folium, tunc videbis.

a) Vgl. die Spielordnung in Haupt's 0. Sp. S. 369. Maria cum puellis

in Ben. P. Sp. 129. cum una puella S. Gall. Sp. S. 79. Maria Magdalene . .

stolzlichenn dritte . .herfur (mit der meydtt) Heidelb. P. Sp. S. 21. Maria

vertit se ad ancillam Alsf. P. Sp. S. 57. — 318 bis 323 = Alsf. P. Sp. 1790

bis 1793. — c) Mundi delectacio = Ben. P. Sp. S. 129. Haupt's 0. Sp.

v. 295 f. — 328 f. = Alsf. P. Sp. 1794 f. — 330 bis 335 = Haupt's 0. Sp.

311—314 (v. 333 des Erlauer Spieles hat keine Parallele) Alsf. P. Sp. 1796

bis 1801 (ebenso); vgl. Eger. Sp. 274, 3.

106 IV, 334 — 364.

* was wil si mein, was wil si mein,

335 * sol ich meines leibes nicht gewaltig sein?

Diaboli persequentes eam cantando:

* Jo du, jo du, jo du, liebes frâuelein,

* du solt deines leibes wol gewaltig sein;

* du solt deinen leip

* preisen ze aller zeit,

340 * Maria, gehab dich wol!

* wes tu heuer nicht gepußest,

* das püß du hinz jar.

Maria cantat:

* In frâuden wil ich immer leben

* nach der jungen 1ere,

345 * mein herze müs in frâuden sweben ||

* heut und immer mere; 14a.

* zürnet dann di muter mein,

* das mag sein, was wil si mein,

* sol ich meines leibes nicht gewaltig sein?


350 * Jo du, jo du, liebes etc.

Maria dicit rikmum:

Sag an, dîrn Wendelmut,

was zimpt dich gut,

well wîr gen under di linden

zu den hübschen chinden

355 und mit lauffen nach dem pall?

das wâr auch gut an dem vall.

Ancill a respondet:

Treun frau, dar umb sült îr mich nicht fragen,

ich chan euch gar ein gutz sagen,

wîr sullen nicht lenger hie sten

360 und under deu chrâm gen

und sollen chauffen reichen anstreich,

da von wîr werden schôn und reich.

nempt den spiegl in eur hent

und schaut eur gepent,

336 = Haupt's 0. Sp. 315 vgl. Haupt's Anm. S. 358. — 338 bis 342 =

619 bis 623. — 351 bis 367 Vgl. 485 bis 508. — 363 = Haupt's 0. Sp. 329

vgl. Niederrh. 0. Sp. 828. Alsf. P. Sp. 1834. Uerding. Magd. Sp. (Rein, Vier

geistliche Spiele des XVII. Jahrh.) v. 1452.

IV, 365-389. 107

365 ob es euch ste recht;

wann es sind hi all hñbsch chnecht,

das wîr den mit unserm gepâr wol gevallen.

Maria jactat diabolis pilam dicfina :

Set hin, îr jungen man all,

und lauft mit uns nach dem pall!

Deinde exit Procus cantando:a)

Veni in ortum meum, sóror mea sponsa.b)

Et dicit rikmum ad populum:

370 Got grüß euch, ir herren all gemain,

paide groß und chlain!

chan mîr împt zaigen ein man,

der mîr dar zu geraten chan,

zu der schônisten frauen ain,

375 so sei di sunn ie überschain,

Maria in freuden ist si genant,

si ist eu doch wol wechant.

wolt îr mich sei wißen lan,

îr frauen und îr tugentleichen man,

380 wann ich sei nicht geloben mag,

paide nacht und tag.

hiet ich ein poten gut, der mîr fügt

und dar zu mich auch wol genügt,

dem wolt ich leihen und geben

385 und tugentleichen mit îm leben.

Tetilla dicit ad Procum:

Ja leupper sun herr,

ich wais aine, de ist nicht verr,

di ist di schônist genant,

so man sei vint in einem lant.

a) Procus. Vgl. den Amator im Ben. P. Sp. 130, den Juvenis in Haupt's

0. Sp. S. 369, Yesse von Pilatus' Hof im Don. P. Sp. S. 188, den Miles Herodis

Alaf. P. Sp. S. 56. — b) Veni in hortum meum, sor or mea sporntet,

messui myrrham meam cum aromatibus meis, comedi favum cum melle

meo, bibi vinum meum cum lacte meo ; comedite amici, et bibite, et inebria

mini carissimi. Cant. 5, 1. Aus Cant. 3, 2—5 und 8, 6—7 ist die Epistel

am Feste der h. Maria Magdalena (22. Juli) zusammengesetzt; vgl. Brev.

Rom. III, 571 ff. Lectio I* et IIa. — 386 Vgl. M. Haupt z. Neidhart 47, 9

liupper (herre).

108 IV, 390 — 423.

390 welt îr mich sein genüßen lan,

ich wolt hâimleich zu îr gan

und wolt euch wol erwerfen,

oder ich wolt dar umb sterben.

Procus dicit:

Eia liebes muterlein,

395 des nim hin di treu mein,

ich gib dîr silber und gold,

oder ich wil dîr immer wesen hold,

das du mich pringest zu dem minnichleichen weip,

oder ich verleus den meinen leip.

Vetula dicit:

400 Des solt du gewis sein,

ich wil treuleich werfen di potschaft dein.

Vetilla dicit ad Mariam":

Got grüß dich, tôchter lôbleich,

du pist aller tugent reich,

du traist der ern ein chran

405 ob allen trauen schon,

du pist ein schôns weip,

wol gezîrt ist dein leip.

ich wil dîr sagen hü&sche ding

von einem stolzen jungeling;

410 er ist hübsch und wol gestalt,

er ist chaum achtzehen jar alt,

raid und chraue ist sein har

und als di gelben seiden var;

der ist dîr auz der maßen hold,

415 er wil silber und gold

verzern in deinen eren.

liebe frau, du solt in geweren,

und ring îm sein swâr

und enpeut îm gute mâr!

Maria dicit:

420 Wol hin, îr alte, lat mich nicht gehôrn,

wî lang welt îr mich wetôrn!

ich hab selber silber und gold;

der mîr dar umb wolt wesen hold,

396 f. Vgl. V, 121 f.

IV, 424-454. 109

der sich zu mîr wolt ehern,

425 dem wolt ich dankchen gern,

das er von mîr würd gewert

alles, des sein herz gert.

Tetilla dicit ad Procum :

Nu dar, ich han dîrs gewarfen wol,

si tut alles das si sol.

430 nu in guten dingen

soit du nach îrn hulden ringen.

wiß, das dîr wol gelingen mag an îr,

das hat si enpoten dîr.

Proeus ad vetulam dicit:

Dankch hab, liebs muterlein,

435 s(o du sâlig müßest sein!

ich chauff dîr mandel und schlich,

hend und ain slôirtüeh,

rokeh und suknei

und di y vech chñrsen da pei, 14 b.

440 peutel und meßer —

nichtz wil ich vergeßen —,

ob mîr gelinget an der frauen mein,

so si immer sâlig muß sein.

Deinde cantat Maria:

Ja ließ ich etc.

Procus accedat Mariam salutando eam et dicit:

445 Raine frucht vil süße,

das dich got grüßen mnße!

Maria dicit:

Sei es nicht eur spot,

so dankch euch der reich got!

Procus dicit:

Mein schône tugentleiche frucht,

450 tü es durch dein zucht

und vernim mich genâdichleich !

do tust du zu gar smâhleich;

Wann mein herz ist traurn vol,

seid ich mich annen sol

444 Siehe oben 330. — 446 Vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 1810.

Sp. 1816. — 453 bis 457 Vgl. Niederen. 0. Sp. 803-5.

- 448 Vgl. Alsf. P.

110 IV, 455—484.

455 deines rôsenvarben mund,

von dem ich aber würd gesund,

da von ich untrôstleich singe,

sîch frau, wi ich prinne!

Maria dicit:

Lesche, herr lesche

460 disen man also vreche!

er ist zornig und ungemut,

er prinnfc recht als ein glut.

wolt îr mîr das gelauben,

îr solt für den zorn essen strauben.

Martha cantat:

Revertere, revertere, Sunamitis etc.a)

et dicit rikmum:

465 Maria, liebe swester mein,

wecher dich von den sünden dein,

und eher zu unserm herren Jhesu Christ,

der aller werlt gewaltig ist!

Maria dicit:

Wartha, herr wartha,

470 was wil mein swester Martha,

das si mich nicht lât singen?

si solt da haim ein rokehen spinnen!

ich wil mich nicht wechern,

ich wil di werlt an freuden mern;

475 sol ich nicht preisen meinen leip,

und pin ich doch ein schônes weip.

mâchst du sein enpeiten,

ja hell ich auf di Seiten,

und han ich dan das gelükeh,

480 ja fall ich ab der seiten auf den rük.

nach sechs und dreißik jam

so wil ich in ein chloster varn

und wil da mein sünde pñßen

mit henden und mit fñßen.

455 f. Vgl. 632 f. — a) Revertere, revertere, Sunamitis, reverteré

revertere, ut intueamur te. Cant. 6, 12. — 465 f. = Haupt's 0. Sp. 337 f.

vgl. S. Gall. Sp. 163. Frankf. P. Sp. S. 142. Abf. P. Sp. 1854 ff. Heidelb. P.

Sp. 445. — 469 f. = Alsf. P. Sp. 1904 f. — 472 Vgl. S. Gall. Sp. 202. Alsf.

P. Sp. 1928.

IV, 485-517.

Maria ad ancillam dicit:

485 Sag an, dîrn Wendelmüt,

was dunkcht dich gut?

well wîr tanzen oder springen

oder gut liedlein singen

oder lauffen nach dem pall?

490 dar an tu, was dîr gevall!

Ancilla dicit:

Frau, dar umb soit îr mich nicht fragen,

ich wil euch gar ein gutz sagen:

chert euch an euer swester red nicht!

was si geleugt, das ist gar enwicht.

495 ir wisst wol, das di nunnen

vil verwerrens chunnen.

nempt hin den spiegl in di hant,

den hat euch eur pül gesant,

da lügt ein und legt recht eur gepend

500 und trükchet schon eur hend!

wîr sullen nicht lenger hie stan,

wîr süllen in di chram gan

und chauffen gut anstreich,

da von werd wîr schôn und reich.

505 dar nach ge wîr under di linden

zu den hübschen chinden.

so werdent uns di jungen man

gar liebleich sehen an.

Maria cantat:

Ja ließ ich meinen ut supra.

Proeus dicit:

510 Herzen liebe frawe mein, nu trôst mich,

oder ich muß sterben umb dich,

trôst mich, lieber morgenstern,

wann ich dein nicht mag enpern.

Maria dicit:

Treun du hast vil wol gesprochen,

515 chum nach phingsten in der Vierden wochen

so man sicht ligen ehalten sne,

der tut uns gar lüczel we;

509 Siehe oben 330.

112 IV, 518 — 546.

seit îr dann ein sâlig man,

so wil ich mit euch über das eis gan.

Martha cantat:

Revertere, revertere ut supra.

520 Swester, liebe swester,

ich sag dîr heut als gesstern,

du solt dich ehern zu got,

ee das es dîr werd ze spot;

verla dich nicht zu deinen jungen tagen

525 und la dîr rechte 1er vortragen!

Maria dicit:

So, was wil aber Martha di swester mein?

wil si nicht da haim sein

und hiet îr îrn scherz und îr chlaffen

mit den münichen und mit den phaffen?

530 woi du sagst mîr ains als ein mâr,

des ich gern übrig wâr;

ich siech dich in solchem leben,

das du mîr chain 1er môchst geben.

hat mîr got das himelreich beschert,

535 sand Peter mîrs halt nîmmer wert.

ich eher mich hin und eher mich her,

di alten sind mîr gar unmâr;

ich eher mich von den alten zu den jungen,

den ist an mîr oft gelungen.

Maria dicit ad Procum:

540 Junger man, welt îr nü mein diener sein,

so singt mit mîr das liedelein!

Tunc Maria cantat cum diabulo ut infra ||

Maria: * Wis willechum ain summerzeit, loa.

* die haid in checher varbe leit,

* der winder sei verwaßen!

545 * pluemlein und der grüne chle,

* den siecht man heur aber als ee,

519) wil] wich. — 539) das. — 542) Vorher am Rande: Versus primus.

— 545) Vorher Uber der Zeile: 2™.

528 Vgl. Abf. P. Sp. 1906. Eger. Sp. 274, 12. — 538 Vgl. Eger. Sp. 274, 9.

— 541 Vgl. Alsf. Sp. 1823. — 542 ff. Vgl. das eingelegte Lied im Niederrh.

0. Sp. 796 ff.

IV, 547- 578. 113

* das sich mein leib

* in frâuden aufzwinget.

Proens: * Traut sâlig weip,

550 * nu la la la la mîr an dir gelingen!

Maria: * Du pist tump, das du mein gerst,

* da du dich selber mit enwerst.

* nü la mich gehoren!

Proeus: * Frâuelein, das chumt da von,

555 * das mîr dein minne tut so don

* und wil mich mir tôren

* ser in den tod,

* so verleus ich mein sinne.

Maria: * Was ist di not,

560 * di du leidest? das daz das si verprinne!

Procus :

Maria :



Maria :


* Frau, das la dîr wesen laid

durch aller frauen wîrdichait

und siech, wî ich prinne!

* So nim ein waßer und lesche dich,

das dunkcht das allerpeste mich

in allen meinen sinnen.

* Nain trau, du pist

de mich leschet allaine.

Nu gib mîr frist,

unz ich mich sein pas wol wol wol veraine.

Proeus :

Maria cantat:

575 *


* Freuelein, wann chumpt der tag,

das mich dein trost gehelfen mag, ||

dein weibleich gute?

* Als mein an von chirchen chumpt,

so mag dîr frâud wol werden chund

und hochgenrñte.

* Wie ob si dann

ze lange beleibet?

15 h.

547) leib] herz siehe v. 549. — 556) tötten. — 567) Am Rande: áyabolus.

— 571) Von hier an ist die Bezeichnung der Personen des Liedes rot. —

576) hoches gemüte.

Dr. Kummer, Erlauer Spiele. H

114 IV, 579-611.

Magdalena: * Nain si chumt schîr,

580 * als man rot rot rot rot rosen siecht sneiben.

Procus :

Maria :


Procus :

Magdalena :


* Das waist wol, das mîr we geschiecht,

* ee das man rosen sneiben sicht,

- es wîrt mîr ze lange.

* Welt îr mîr nicht pargen dar,

* so phendet eurn pürgel zwar,

* ir seit anegenge.

* Frau, ich wil sein,

* als dein gut mir enpeutet.

* Was wil ich dein?

* mirst lieber der der der der mich da trâuttet.

Procus: * Frâuelein, ich pins dein chnecht

* und sol dich trâutten, deist mein recht,

* und niemmant mere.

Maria: * Di red di dunkchet mich ze chrankch,

595 * euch môcht mein diern wesen endankch,

* und mñt mich [so] sere.

Procus: * Frau, eur diern,

* di füget mîr nicht rechte.

Maria cantat: * Mit meiner diern,

600 * so Ion ich wol wol wol wol meinen chnechten.

Procus: '* Und treutet euch ein ander man,

* der mit dem || griffel schreiben chan,

* das ist mein swâre.

(* Ir grift'elschreiben liebet mîr,

(* wie leit das an dem herzen dîr

(* so offenwâre!

(* ich pin in holt,

(* das han ich in erzaiget.

(* îr minn geit reichen sold,

610 (* hat mîr oft oft oft oft trauren erleidet.

vel sic cantat Maria:

(* Zwe sol mîr silber unde gold,

16 a.



590) mir ist. — 592) das ist. — 597) fugt. — 611) Der Initiale X mí

in Z gebessert.

IV, 612-639. 115

(* war ich nicht den mannen hold,

(* di chñnnen laid verdrukchen.

(* dar umb sol sich ein schônes weip

615 (* vil nahen zu in smükchen.

(* Wir sullen des nicht laßen.

(* wir schñllen singen, springen, raien

(* den maiereH auf der straze.

(* Ich pin ein vil schônes weip,

020 (* ich wil preisen meinen leip,

(* den wil ich preisen ciliare.

(* wes ich heuer nicht gepueß,

(* das püß ich hinz jare.

Martha cantat:

Revertere, revertere etc.

et dicit rikmum:

Maria, liehe swester mein,

625 wecher dich ut supra.

Maria«) dicit:

Wartha her, wartha,

was wil mein swester Martha ut patet supra.

Prodis cantat:

(* Got grüß di lieben trauen mein,

(* so du immer sâlig mñßest sein!

630 (* du hast verwuntt das herze mein,

(* dar umb so leid ich große pein;

(* und schold ich chussen deinen roten mund,

(* so würd ich endichleich gesund.

Procus dicit:

Gott grüß dich ros und liligenweis,

635 got dich beschüf mit seinem fleis.

und solt ich dich noch meiner glust

smukchen an meines herzen prtist

und der minn mit dîr weginnen, ||

zehen jar wollt ich prinnen 16b.

615) ym. — 616) Über der Zeile rot: 2™ versus. — 619) Über der Zeile

rot: 3ï! versus. — a) Maria] Martha. Vgl. oben v. 469 ff.

620 — 23 Vgl. oben v. 338 bis 342. — 624 f. oben v. 465 ff.


116 IV, 640 — 671.

(540 in der tieffen helle grunt.

nu trôste mich dein rôter mund!

Maria dicit : Wart, wie er sich gesprânzelt hat

in so ritterleiche wat!

und sold er chussen meinen roten mund,

645 so wñrd er seiner swer gesunt.

des châm uns ze der wochen vil und geniig;

get hâm, habt euers herren phlüg!

Procus dicit:

Herzenliebe frau gemait,

du Ion mîr mein arbait,

650 wann .ich dîr fleißleich gedienet han

recht als ein rechter chanman,

der nimer lieb hat dan ains,

stîrbt îm das, so hat er chains.

Maria dicit: Wol hin, du falscher mut,

(555 du pist in allen dingen nicht gut.

ich acht dein chlain als ein har,

das sag ich dîr fftr war.

Servus Proci dicat:

Herr, war umb wetrübt ir eurn leip

durch das minnicleich weip,

(560 der in dem lant mer mügen sein?

da von lat eur traurn sein,

nempt hin das swert in eur hant

und slacht den alten torant

auf îrn schadernakch,

665 das si chaum trag den petelsakch!

Procus reeipit servo gladium et dicit:

Hast du mich dan gelaichen,

macht ich dich weraichen,

ich wolt dîr einen slag geben,

der dich alte prâcht von dem leben.

Martha cantat Revertere etc. et dicit:

(570 Maria, ich tun dîr chunt,

slach von dîr der helle hunt

661) eurn.

654 ff. Vgl. Ben. P. Sp. 132 Heu vita praeterita, vita plena malin etc

(= Haupt's 0. Sp. 403 ff.).

IV, 672-697. 117

und cher dich zu Jhesum Christ,

der aller sünder trost ist.

wann er siczt an dem gericht sein

675 und erchent die sünde dein,

so gewinst du an derselben zeit

ein herren, der an der cheten leit.

da von becher dich von den sünden dein,

wan Jhesus der herre mein

680 wil dîr vergeben dein missetat,

di du wegangen hast mit der hochfart.

Maria frangat comale a) et iactat ad populum dicens:

Se hin werlt, für deinen Ion,

den ich von dîr gehabt han

und nimmer gewinne!

685 mich habent wetrogen all mein sinne;

ich wil mich an Jhesum ehern

und wil auch gern von im lern

den weg der gerechtichait.

was ich hab getan, das ist mîr laid,

690 und wil es gern pñßen

da zu Jhesum dem sueßen.

Iterum Maria dicit:

Wol hin, du arme hochfart,

ee es mîr werd ze spat!

du pringst den tieflischen spot,

695 mein sin und mein mut der stet zu got.

Martha, liebe swester mein,

ich volg gern der 1ere dein.

697) wolg.

a) comale scheint einen Schmuckgegenstand zu bezeichnen ; der 57. Canon

des Concilium Avenionse ann. 1326, welcher Bestimmungen über die Tracht der

Juden enthält, verfügt mulleres autem Judaeae a 12. annis et supra comalia

deferant extra clomum. Du Gange Glossarium II, 605. Vgl. die Spielordnung

des Ben. P. Sp. 132 Tunc deponat vestimenta saecularia etc., Haupt's 0. Sp.

S. 375 et tunc reiciat ornatum. Niederrh. 0. Sp. v. 944 ff. Alsf. P. Sp. v. 1996 ff.

2013 und die Spielordnung S. 63 тutat häbitum. Heidelb. P. Sp. S. 24 Mag

dalena . . . didh diesse cleyder vß. — 682 ff. Vgl. Ben. P. Sp. 132 Hinc or

natus secidi, vestium candores etc. (= Haupt's 0. Sp. 415 ff.). — 692 Vg

AM. P. Sp. 2000. - 696 f. Vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 2036 f.

118 IV, 698 —713.

Herum Maria:

Fñr mich, da ich Jhesum wegrüße

und chüß îm sein zart fueße

700 und wewain mein angst und mein not!

der hâilig geist mîr es enpot.

Et cantet Maria:

Peccaui super numerum arene maris etc.

Maria dicit:

Ich han arme gesundet mer

danne gris hat das mer,

wann mîr nicht zimt, das ich ansech

705 meines scheppher himelreich.

ich han ser verdienet seinen pan,

dar an hab ich übel getan.

Dominica persona cапtat:

Dimissa sunt ei peccata multa etc.a)

et dicit: Stand auf, Maria Magdalen,

in großen îrrn sich ich dich sten.

710 dein augenwaßer floz vil sueß,

da mit webñgt du mîr mein füß

und trükchest seu mit deinem har.

dein sünd sind vergehen gar.

Maria cantat:

Jhesu nostra redemption ut supra.

Et recedat cum 4t0 versu.c)

a) Am Rande Maria cantat: accessit ad pedes. — c) 0hne Zeilenabsatz

702 f. Vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 2005. 2743 (= Wolfb. 0. Sp. 107 ff.). — 704 f.

Vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 2009 f. — a) Dimissa sunt ei peccata multa, quoniam

dilexit muttum Luc. 7, 47 (Remittuntur etc.). Brev. Saltzb. 387, Ia (De S.

Maria Magdalena) Ille versus ante collectam dicatur, si placet. Brev. Rom. III,

573a Die S. Mariae Magd, in IIo Nocturno Lectio IVa, Sermo Gregorii Papae

(Homil. 25) Et vox veritatis inpletur: Dimissa sunt ei etc. Vgl. Ben. P. Sp.

134. S. Gall. Sp. S. 84. Alsf. P. Sp. S. 89. Frankf. P. Sp. S. 145. Heidelb.

P. Sp. S. 126. — Zu der am Rande nachgetragenen Antiphone Accessit ad pedes

vgl. Brev. Rom. III, 574b Die S. Mariae Magd. Lectio VIIIa: Accessit ergo

non ad caput domini, sed ad pedes. Dieselbe steht auch im Ben. P. Sp. 133.

Alsf. P. Sp. S. 86. — 708 Vgl. Alsf. P. Sp. 2821. — 710 f. Vgl. Haupt's 0.

Sp. 491 f. Niederrh. 0. Sp. 974 f. 1034 f. Augsb. P. Sp. 79 f. — 712 Niederrh.

0. Sp. 1026. Alsf. P. Sp. 2804. — 713 Alsf. P. Sp. 2776. - b) Jhesu nostra

redemptio. Vgl. oben III, S. 74. Derselbe Hymnus auch in der Fusswaschungs

scene des Alsf. P. Sp. S. 86.


fährt die Hs. mit Minuskel fort: Finito hoc Rubinns cantat de sepulchro

contra Petrum et Johannem ut infra etc.: ,

Ben sucht îr im grab, priider Aczman,

wen sücht îr îm grab, priider Aczman?

Petrus: (* Das tun ich Jhesum von Nazaret, pruder Ludolt.

Rubinus: (* Er ist an den galgen, der milde Jhesus (Hs. wilde Desus),

5 (* er ist ein hâiliger Christ, wo er ist.

Petrus: (* Sim ist îm also? (|

Rubinus: (* Sim io. 17a.

Petrus: , (* Sim ist îm also?

Rubinus: (* Sim io.

Petrus :

10 (* Ir pauren, wes stet îr also?

singt: Christ ist erstanden

von der marter etc.

Finito hoc Rubinns dicat rikmum:

Hôrt, ir herren all gemain,

paide groß und chlain!

Die folgenden Worte Incipit Indus circa sepulchrum domini a militibus

sind rot durchgestrichen.

CAREG LWYD (Oct 21, 1874).

Cambrian News - Friday  November 20,1874


CAREG LWYD (Oct 21, 1874).—It is strange that. our Welsh lexicographers, including the Dr. Owen Pughe, have omitted the word " Llwyd" as implying "Blessed," and yet the word was well understood in early times to mean " Blessed."

 Rhys Gook says in the 15th century.

 " Llwydion fu’r Saint geralnt gu.

Diayml a llwyd yw Iesu "

 "Blessed were the Saints, dear and

Sensible kindred, and blessed is Jesus."

Also. Gwilym Lleyn in the 16th century says:—

 Mae lyn myn dy law myn Duwlwyd “ Iwyd "

 " It is in thy hand by the Blessed God."


And dafydd ab Gwilym says in the 15th century :

 " A chvwyddfrisin i Duw iwyd,

Yw Llasowyr Dafydd Brophwyd."

 " Poems to the Blessed God are the Psalms  of David the Prophet

(Image above:Glamoran Mari c. 1900)

" The play of Mari Lwyd , =The Blessed Mary, in Glamorganshire, is simply a remnant of an old " Mystery," acted at one time by the playwrights of the day—the Grey Friars, —The Virgin Mary, Mari Lwyd "—being the principal character. It is also a significant fact that the Grey Friars are called by the Welsh—"Y Brodyr Llwydion. Whether the " Llwvd " really referred to the colour of their dress, or the supposed sanctity of their lives is for others to decide. This fraternity were great actors of plays or mysteries at Coventry and Shrewsbury and the Chester mysteries are said to be "The device of one Done Randall, Mooches of Chester Abbey." It is also worthy of note that the " Garreg Lwyd" was in more than one instance the stone at which the Village green games were held, and that on the " Gang Lwyd " it may be the old Druidic altar—the harpist sat dispensing music to the pleasure seekers. It may also be mentioned in passing that our present word for blessed is " geryn," the word changed by time as other things are altered by the same power from grey to white.

South Wales Star - Friday January 1, 1892



 In these districts the" Mari Lwyd custom is still kept up, though it is now but a mere caricature of what it was thirty or fifty years ago. The custom was briefly this. A party of workmen procured the skeleton of a horse's head, to which a kind of spring is attached, enabling the mouth to open and shut at will. The head is dressed with ribbons of all colours, and even feathers are struck here and there. A short pole is also fastened to it to represent the horse's back, and the whole apparatus is supported and managed by a man over whom a covering is thrown. We should also mention that by some device or other the property" horse is represented as having fairly long ears. When all is ready the party start on their rounds on Christmas Eve, continuing their rounds for a fortnight or sometimes even a month after Christmas. When a house is approached, the spokesman of the party sings some traditional penillian to announce the approach of Mari Lwyd lawen." The master of the house, on realizing who his visitors are (if he has a ready wit), probably improvises a few rhymes, denying them admission at first, but it is generally understood and expected that he should give in and open the door to the Mari Lwyd." In passing, this passage of arms between the master and the outsiders might be compared with the somewhat analogous dialogue which prevailed be-tween the leaders of the Scouts" and the protector who represented the bride's father when the former desire admission on the wedding day in the latter's house, so as to carry away the bride to meet the bridegroom. On gaining admission, the Mari Lwyd (which, strictly, refers to the dressed “horse" of the company) goes through several horse-like performances such as snorting and snapping its mouth, with the view of frightening the ladies and the younger members of the family. Then after receiving some money from the master of the house (and sometimes meat and drink also), they make for the next house, where much the same kind of thing is repeated. Before going any further it would be as well to inquire into the origin of this custom. “Mari Lwvd" undoubtedly means the Blessed Mary." In the older Welsh poets, the word lwyd, meaning blessed, is frequently found Dafydd ab Gwilym has A “chywyddau i Dduw lwyd." So the custom has something to do with the Virgin Mary couple this with the fact that its only paraphernalia are those of a horse, or according to the stricter custom of some 50 years ago, of an ass, and we are at once led to see in it  a survival of the Roman Catholic feast of the ass to celebrate the flight into Egypt. The feast was at one time observed with the greatest solemnity in Britain. It is on record: that in many instances an ass gaily decorated with ribbons was lead into the-parish church, where the priest read a special service in its honour, and the people responded by “he-hawing” after the usual manner of an ass. When this was over a procession was formed to march through the village or town, but we do not know whether any special ceremonial was gone through in that connection. But when this custom was driven out of the churches, it is no wonder that it should have been preserved among the people, though in some slightly modified form, and, that it is the very "Mari Lwyd of Wales, but with the exception of the he-hawing in Church, the ceremonial was probably a silent one. and it is significant that none of the penillion usually sang on this occasion contain any religious allusion at all. In fact, the ceremonial was a play without words," ranking in every other respect with the sacred mystery plays of the Middle Ages, and comparable to the passion play which is still preserved at Ober-Ammergau. Thus Christmas has become the proper occasion for such- “plays without words" (known  long before L’ Enfant Prudigue).  for our pantomimes are nothing else, and even they too have a religious origin, even the fairies at the back of the stage representing the angels on the good spirits" of two old 'mystery play." (The harlequinade, which is now always incorporated with the pantomime, is., however of secular origin, and, like Punch comes from Italy.) But to return to the Welsh “Mari Lwyd," how comes it. then, that its visits are. now generally accompanied with singing? At Christmas- time there was another custom quite-distinct from "Mari Lwyd that of Wassail singing, but in the course of time both became merged so that the- play was at last supplied with words, though of a very incongruous nature. Though the terms” Wassail" and wassailing may bae the purest Saxon, still the custom spread into Wales- "Gwassaela" was common, throughout most of the southern half of the Principality. Both the “Mari Lwyd” and the “Gwassaela” have j lately very much deteriorated1—the chief object of (those who take the “Mari Lwyd" about is to get drink, and for this purpose they practically levy blackmail on the timid and the nervous. When I asked an inspector of police, on Christmas Eve a few years ago, if he could tell me where I might be likely to see a :Mari Lwyd” he shrugged his shoulders and looked askance  on me as a person who was in search of opportunity to disturb and break the peace. Poor "Mari Lwyd” its life is drawing to a close. But its skeleton will find a place in the museum, for we understand that the curator of the Cardiff Library has a couple of specimens of the “property" horse preserved in his museum. We might add a few of the “penillion" or ”tribanan”  that were being sung a few years ago in one locality to accompany, the Mari Lwyd." The following is a specimen of the dialogue between Mari and the master of the  house :—


Wei, dyma m'n  dwad,

Gyfeillion rhiii demiwed,….

And “Reply”s


In event of no resistance

Y tylwyth t/o a’r teulu…


For New Year’s

Dymunwn I’ch lwenydd…


 Verses deleted as they are found elsewhere.

South Wales Echo - Friday December 29, 1899

…From Treorky I have a note on an old time custom: — You referred to the Mari Lwyd as a thing of the past. I beg to differ with you upon this point. Two years ago, I spent my Christmas in my native place, not more than six miles from Cardiff, at a, place called Caerphilly Common, and while there I found that the custom was still kept up to a certain extent in that district. I myself saw as many as three different Mari's that Christmas going from house to house, and not from one public-house to another. No doubt they preferred calling at public, houses, because they would generally get something to warm themselves with at such places. Unfortunately, I cannot go down there this Christmas or I would, for I should like to see the Mari Lwyd once again." My remarks were mainly directed to the Rhondda, where Mari Lwyd is now a thing of the past….

-p. 2

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