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We’ll be hard-pressed to find a holiday more charming than St. Dwynwen’s Day, on January 25th. As the Welsh equivalent to Valentine’s Day, St. Dwynwen’s is all about spreading heartfelt gestures and lovers’ well-wishes. This holiday shows us all how we can turn a crummy situation into a legacy of love.
History of St. Dwynwen's Day
St. Dwynwen, or Dydd Santes Dwynwen, was born one of 24 daughters to a Welsh king Brychan Brycheiniog during the 5th century. Legend has it that she was the most beautiful of the king’s girls and was highly sought after by royals in the neighboring countries. But Dwynwen fell in love with local citizen Maelon Dafodrill. When he received news from Dwynwen’s father that she had already been promised to a prince, he gave Dwynwen the silent treatment.
Rather than go through with the arranged marriage, Dwynwen ran into the forest in a state of distress to implore God to change her circumstances. She made three wishes: that Maelon — who had been turned into a block of ice by an angel who had visited Dwynwen before — would thaw, that God would help all true lovers, and that she would never marry. At the end of it all, God granted all three wishes and, to show her gratitude, Dwynwen moved to a Welsh convent and became a nun. She spent much of her time praying in earnest that other lovers would have better luck than herself, which is how she became Wales’s patron saint of lovers.
Each year, on January 25, much of Wales (but not all) honors St. Dwynwen by answering her prayers and focusing their attention on their romantic partners and lovers. Some visit the local carving shop in the town of Tenby to craft a love spoon while others go for a chilly stroll on Llanddwyn Island where St. Dwynwen founded a convent. In general, this is a day to surrender to warm fuzzy feelings and ardently spread them around.
While this holiday is pointedly Welsh, the culture proudly shares its celebrations with anyone who wants to partake. They offer their blessings to any romantics out there in the world who want to use the 25th of January and St. Dwynwen’s selfless legacy as a reason to give special attention and gifts to their spouses and partners.
St. Dwynwen's Day timeline
After years of living as a fully withdrawn hermit, St. Dwynwen dies, leaving behind a historic convent and a legacy of love.
The first love spoons are exchanged between Welsh lovers in honor of St. Dwynwen’s Day, establishing a tradition that would be repeated for centuries to come.
St. Dwynwen’s day experiences a revival after one Bangor University student crafts cards and sells them as Welsh St. Valentine’s gifts.
The largest-ever love spoon is carved in Wales, measuring 44 feet long.
St. Dwynwen's Day FAQs
Did St. Dwynwen ever find love?
Not in the traditional sense, no, but our lady of love spread so much joy and connection in her years here on Earth. Show some love in her honor, today!
Why haven’t I ever heard of this holiday?
St. Dwynwen’s Day isn’t even celebrated by all Welsh citizens the way that Valentine’s Day is by Americans. The news of this quaint day of remembrance probably hasn’t reached our ears before because it is so geographically specific. We’re glad you know about it now!
How can I celebrate love if I’m not in love?
There are plenty of ways to pay tribute to this most romantic occasion, even if you don’t have a hand to hold. Watch a romantic movie, read the sappiest of love poems, or make the day about loving yourself with a bath and box of chocolates.
St. Dwynwen's Day Activities
Confess your love to a longtime crush
What better time to make the bold move you’ve been mulling over for months? Nothing would honor this lovers’ patron saint better than for you to take the plunge and tell that special someone how you feel. Send a text, make a call, or send a love spoon via snail mail with a heartfelt message packed alongside it.
Have a date night
If you’re far past the times of secret admirers and wayward glances, simply use this late winter day as a reason to show your longtime partner or spouse some extra appreciation. You know your partner best, so think of something you both could do in your free time that would really communicate how grateful you are that the stars aligned to bring you together.
Facilitate a romantic surprise
For those of us flying solo on a day like today, the festivities can turn a bit cold and sour. Instead of dwelling on the absence of an intimate partner in your life, ask your friends and family who are in love if there’s any way you could aid them in showing appreciation for their partners. Maybe you could babysit the kids, pick up a cake from the local bakery, or clip a few flowers from your garden to fill out a bouquet.
5 Facts About Wales That’ll Put You On The Next Flight Out
The land is packed with history
There are more castles per square mile in Wales than in any other country on the planet.
Old English linguists have a field day with the Welsh language
Welsh speakers still use some of the old diphthongs and pronunciations from their ancestral heritage.
Only foreigners call it Wales
When discussing their home country, locals call it Cymru.
Queen Elizabeth’s favorite dog breed hails from Wales
This U.K. nation is responsible for introducing corgis to the world.
Ireland’s favorite saint was born there
That’s right, St. Patrick is actually Welsh.
Why We Love St. Dwynwen's Day
It’s the prequel to Valentine’s Day in the U.S.
In America, Valentine’s Day can be fraught with loads of sky-high expectations, yet St. Dwynwen’s Day is hardly known in the States. By taking advantage of this Welsh holiday, we can offer a pleasant surprise to our romantic partners and catch them completely off guard with our shows of affection and admiration.
Winter warms up quickly when we’re celebrating passion
Since Dwynwen’s Day occurs in the dead of winter for many of us, its warm motifs can help to liven up the cold and dreary days. Instead of freezing all alone, we can cuddle up in a blanket with our significant others. And maybe even whip up some hot cocoa!
Everyone is welcome
St. Dwynwen just so happens to also be the patron saint of sick animals in Wales, which means even single people can find a reason to be cheery on this holiday. If you don’t have a lover to embrace, visit animal shelters or the pound and volunteer to show those neglected animals some love.
St. Dwynwen's Day dates