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Old Calan, Gwaun Valley

Old Calan (Old New Year) celebrations in the Gwaun Valley area of Pembrokeshire

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Children singing for a New Years Gift

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Mrs Howells listening to children singing calenig

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Hen Glan lunch at Pontfaen, Cwm Gwaun

The Calends of Winter – Gwaun Valley

Although the country celebrates the beginning of the new year on 1 January, there is a small corner in Pembrokeshire that celebrates it on 13 January. For the residents of Pont-faen and Llanychâr in the Gwaun Valley, 13 January is the traditional new year, the children go around singing 'calennig', and everyone celebrates the beginning of the new year.

Adopting the Gregorian Calendar

But why celebrate a fortnight after the rest of Britain? The tradition dates back to 1752, when Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar, nearly 200 years after the rest of Europe. The Julian calendar was abolished and the people of Britain 'lost' 13 days.

There was much opposition to this, and a great many areas throughout Britain continued to celebrate the new year on 13 January. As the years passed, people got used to the new calendar and the new year was celebrated on the first, apart from in the Gwaun Valley.

Tradition Continuing

The tradition continues in this rural area in Pembrokeshire, with children having a day off school, and the locals coming together to celebrate. The children had to fight their way through snowdrifts in January 2010 to keep the tradition alive!

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