The History of England

from Celts through 20th century


Category: Customs + Festivals

The national Welsh Eisteddfod is devoted to music, literature and the arts. It is a cormpetitive festival and is held in the first week of August. All the proceedings are in the Welsh language. Prizes are awarded for music, for prose and verse, painting and craftwork, for drama and competition is very keen.

Many thousands of people attend it. The Gorsedd-rulers of the Eisteddfod, dress in fanciful Druidic robes and perform supposedly Druidic rites. Surging over all the other activities is the massive choral singing. The festival includes a colourful cerernony. Many consider its chief glory — the Crowning of the Bard. Welsh poets submit under a pseudonym their epics on a given subject.

In the pavilion, the robed “druids’’ wearing all their decorations, assemble about a throne on the platform. Trumpets sound and the Archdruid calls out the name of the winning poet. He is conducted to the platform. There he is robed in purple and crowned with golden oak-leaves. And to shouts of “Peacel’’ a sword is sheathed above his head. The cash award for his poem is about 20 pounds. But the homage given to the poet at his coronation is boundless.

The South Wales Miners’ Eisteddfod at Porthcaw was established some 25 years ago to fill a gap in the cultural life of the mining communities of South Wales following the end of the last war. Since that time, it has grown in popularity and support until it has become one of the most important annual events in the calendar of the Welsh miner and his family.

Not only is the Eisteddfod an important cultural event but a great social gathering, where hundreds of old friends meet to renew their friendship. This, too, was the intention of its founders in 1947. Many families come for the day and bring their picnic baskets and vacuum flasks with them. It has been known for members of the audience to remain at the Eisteddiod from 11 a. m. until the final male voice cornpetition at 10.30 p.m., when the day usually ends with thousands more people out on the promenade than in the pavilion.

Many of the present-day Welsh singing stars started on their careers at the Miners’ Eisteddfod. It is a “launching pad’’ for elocutionists and soloists, and one of the highlights of the day’s events is the children’s choir competition, which attracts the finest juvenile choirs from mining villages.

It is always the wish of the organisers to make the proceedings as entertaining as possible by providing competitions for as many Classes as possible — women’s choirs, men’s glee parties, mixed choirs, and, of course, the male voice choirs which attract some of the finest choirs in the land.

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