Calan Gaeaf – the Welsh Halloween

Calan Gaeaf – The Welsh Halloween

Calan Gaeaf is the first day of winter (1st November). The night before (31st October) is known as Noson Calan Gaeaf or Ysbrydnos – when the spirits come out to visit.

Originally this was a Pagan festival where people celebrated the end of the summer and the end of the old year. People believed that the gap between the living and dead was closer on this night, and spirits could cross into the living side.

There are many Celtic traditions surrounding Noson Calan Gaeaf. Here are some of them:

People wore masks on Noson Calan Gaeaf in order to keep the spirits away. This is why people make nasty faces in pumpkins today and put them in the windows or doors of the house.

People didn’t light a fire in their houses on Noson Calan Gaeaf, just in case the spirits would feel at home and want to stay!

Another tradition was to make a bonfire. Each member of the family would mark a White stone and throw it into the bonfire. If one of the stones was missing the next day, it meant that there would be a death during the year.

‘Twco Fale’ – Apple Bobbing was also popular. Girls would try to pull an apple out of a barrel of water using only their teeth. The first girl to pull an apple out would be the next to get married.

There are also many stories in Wales which include Ladi Wen – a ghost of a girl in White, and the Hwch Ddu Gwta – a black sow without a tail.


Have you heard of another story or tradition in your area? / Ydych chi wedi clywed am stori neu draddodiad arall yn eich ardal chi?

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