Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!

I was delighted to read Alli Marshall’s retelling of the story of Pwyll and Rhiannon in the Holiday Guide [“Holiday Folk Tale,” Dec. 19, 2007]. I was equally pleased to read Michael Newton’s letter to the editor [“Pwyll and the Celts,” Jan. 2]. I am from Wales, and Welsh is my first language. Our culture normally receives very little attention, while other Celtic nations—namely the Scots and Irish—take the lion’s share of the spoils! So any mention of our rich heritage is warmly appreciated. Thank you.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Scots and Irish, but Wales is also a nation, very distinct from England despite our geographically close proximity. In addition, the Cornish in the southwest of England and the Breton in the northwest of France are also Celtic, and their languages resemble Welsh.

Our culture is unique and very much alive. For example, we hold events called “Eisteddfodau” on local, national and international levels. The whole country (and expatriates from abroad) gathers together for a week-long cultural Olympics at the National Eisteddfod. Numerous different competitions are held in singing, acting, recitation, music, dancing, writing prose and poetry, crafts, arts and many more categories. The highlight of this festival is the chairing-of-the-bard ceremony, conducted by a group of Druids and led by the Arch Druid (yes, even in these Christian times!). They are all members of the Gorsedd of Bards, an association of poets, writers, musicians and artists. It is a rare sight to behold!

So thanks again for mentioning our little country and our very large culture—which really is the essence of a people. By the way, I cringe when I listen to Fleetwood Mac mispronounce the name Rhiannon! Rh is a letter in the Welsh alphabet, and you really do sound the h. And Dylan Thomas’s name is likewise mispronounced—it’s Dy(like duh)-lan Thomas and not (Di)-lan! I won’t even attempt to explain how to pronounce the ll in Pwyll!

Thanks, Asheville, for embracing other cultures and ideas. This is a great place to live!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Happy New Year!

— Alison Hill

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