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Gŵyl Mabsant

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Traditionally in Wales, every parish would celebrate a Gŵyl Mabsant (Holiday of a Patron Saint) in commemoration of its native saint. This annual celebration developed from a dedication through prayer to a programme of recreational activities. Owing to the combination of betting, feasting and alcohol consumption, parish festivals built-up a reputation for their rowdiness. As many sports were localised activities, rules usually differed from place to place, leading to disagreements between parishes.


  • Cockfighting: Birds were specially trained for the contest, and the owner of a victorious cockerel was held in high esteem; large amounts of money could be wagered on the outcome of the fights.
  • Grinning Matches (for Old Women)
  • Eating Hot Pudding
  • Bando: A team sport, similar to the modern game of hockey and teams used clubs to strike the ball towards a goal. It continued in some areas until the late 19th century and was particularly popular in Glamorgan.


  • "Gŵyl Mabsant" by T.Llew Jones. In Llafar Gwlad p10-11 (Winter, 1997), p8-9 (Spring, 1998).
  • "Festivals and social structure in early modern Wales" by Richard Suggett. In Past and Present, vol. 152, p79-112 (August, 1996).cy:Gŵyl Mabsant

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