Stores are decorated and Christmas music is being played at stores. Santa Claus arrived in Edmonton on November 19 to kick of the holiday season with a fantastic celebration. I did not attend but it sounded like a lot of fun. Why don’t you get in the mood by celebrating the season at our Christmas Carols and Tea on December 11 at 2 pm. We have a new place to sing - St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 8424-95 Avenue from 2:00 to 4:00. I hope to see everyone there.
The members from our Society who attended the North American Festival of Wales held in Calgary were enthused by the Festival. One of our new members who was born in Wales but brought up in Canada appreciated that she learned a lot about her Welsh Heritage. Calgary Welsh Society did a great job of hosting the event which showcased Welsh history, culture and heritage to all who attended. The program included information about the contribution made by Welsh people to Canadian history. In addition, the Welsh of Alberta were able to experience a celebration of our cultural heritage. Although the Welsh North American Association was mainly responsible for the overall organizing of the event, the Calgary Welsh Society’s input and on-site arrangement was evident. The host volunteers with their cowboy hats and bandanas were very helpful. The inclusion of the First Nations blessing and the hoop dance was significant for Calgary’s history of Canada’s first people. Well done Calgary!
Finding a new venue for St. Dwynwen’s Pub and Quiz Night on January 20 has not been easy. I will update you by email as soon as I know. If you do not know about St. Dwynwen, she is the Welsh patron Saint of Love. Dydd Santes Dwynwen (Welsh for St. Dwynwen’s Day} is celebrated on January 25 every year. Much of Welsh history is based on stories and songs which were traditionally passed on by word of mouth. As such, there are a several variations on the tale of St. Dwynwen. A simple version states that she was the beautiful daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog. She fell in love with Prince Maelon. When her father refused his permission for her to marry Maelen, Dwynwen became very upset and ran away to the forest. There she met an angel in a dream who granted her the position of the Saint of Love. The popularity and celebration of St. Dwynwen’s Day has increased in the recent years in Wales. So come and join our local celebration. See if you can learn anything about the Welsh by participating in the Quiz.
I hope that everyone is planning on attending the St. David’s Day annual banquet. Tickets are available for the St. David’s annual banquet which will be held on February 25. Information will be sent out shortly.
As a reminder, have you renewed your membership for 2016-17?
Have a Happy Christmas,
Eluned Smith, President
A new membership year brings new opportunities for meeting people.
Christmas Carols, December 11, 2016, 2-4 p.m., St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 8424-95 Avenue.
As well, the St. David’s Welsh Male Voice Choir presents:
“A Christmas Concert”
December 4, 2016 at 2 p.m., Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 10014-81 Avenue,
Admission: $15.00 ea.
For tickets and/or information,
Contact: Bob Morgan at (780) 475-4140 or Barry Hunt at (780) 434-5524
--- Light refreshments served after the performance ---
St. Dwynwen’s Pub and Quiz Night, January 20, 2017, Location and Time to be determined.
St. David’s Day Banquet, February 25, 2017, 6-9 p.m., University of Alberta Faculty Club, 11435 Saskatchewan Drive.
Have you renewed your membership? If you haven’t there is still time. The new season for 2016-2017 started on September 1st but runs to August 31, 2017. The fee is $25.00 each and all events are free with the exception of the St. David’s Day Banquet. Please make out your cheque to the St. David’s Welsh Society of Edmonton and send to our Treasurer, Barb Sinn at P.O. Box 11682, Station Main, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3K8.
Did you know that love spoons are not unique to Wales? We tend to think Love spoons originated in Wales and that only the Welsh lads carved them for their sweethearts. One of the presentations that I attended at the 2016 Festival of Wales reminded me that I need to be clearer on the origin of the love spoon when I discuss Welsh Culture at our pavilion at Heritage Festival.
Modern carvers David Western and Laura Gorun gave an excellent presentation of the History of Lovespoons. They reported that in 1600’s spoons were carved all across Europe in Scandinavian countries, Germany, Breton and even Italy by young boys. Initially wooden objects were embellished with simplistic designs and given as a gift to the young lady. If the spoon was accepted the then the courtship could start.
The oldest spoon found was carved in Germany in early 1666 and had romantic symbols while the oldest known Scandinavian spoon was carved in 1667 with religious symbols. The earliest surviving Welsh lovespoon dating from around 1667 is at the National Museum of Wales at St. Fagans. However, Welsh lovespoons are known to have been made by young men before this date.
Although the custom occurred across Europe, the Welsh lads gradually took hold of the lovespoon and the simple geometric designs became more eloquent and the designs became more passionate and imaginative. In Wales in the 1800 the professional carvers began to take over and they improved the technique and skills. Today the young lads no longer carve spoons and the designs are always professional. Unfortunately, most of the commercial spoons available in the shops in Wales are machine made. However, there are still highly skilled professional carvers who will design to order for customers incorporating stories within a spoon to commemorate special events.
Submitted by Eluned Smith
Interested in owning your own lovespoon but you don’t have a young Welsh lad to carve it for you, you can purchase one from David Western Lovespoons:
He carves to order. You need to contact him directly for information on designs and prices.
North American Festival of Wales
The main theme of this article is what I learnt about how the Welsh contribution to Canada has been overlooked. But you’d be forgiven for not believing that if you’d been in Calgary for the NAFOW. Never (to my shame) having been to one of these festivals before, I was astonished at the very large number of my compatriots who were milling round the lobby of the Calgary hotel when I arrived.. I had no idea what to expect, so was quite bowled over by the opening ceremony. There was a familiar face on the platform: one of the local organizers was Elaine Westlake, whom many of you will remember from her days as a member of the Edmonton Society. And it was a jolly good show that she and co-organizer, David Matthews put on. There was a splendid review of the Welsh who had helped so significantly in the early development of Calgary: there were on-screen images and there were actors playing the role of outstanding characters. We were reminded that we are all here on Treaty 7 land by a member of a local band who did an impressive hoop dance.
Another face familiar to the Edmonton delegates was that of Ceri Owen Jones. Ceri and his partner Elsa Davies rather stole the show and were the hit of the festival. Their two presentations were given to packed houses: first Ceri’s masterly talk on the history of the Welsh harp. (The bringing of the instruments through Canadian customs had not been easy). Ceri illustrated his talk with pictures and with his own playing. Wonderful! So that when he and Elsa gave a recital of Welsh folk music, with harp and fiddle and crwth and voice - there was standing room only. And as if that wasn’t enough, Ceri emceed the Noson Lawen! Great time for proud parents Andrew and Sue Jones!
Ceri and Elsa weren’t the only contributors to the musical richness of the event. After the opening ceremony a group called Iona gave an opening concert which included singing and dance from the Celtic countries, Saturday evening featured a Grand Concert given by the visiting choir from North Wales - the Côr Meibion Colwyn. Under their conductor, Tudur Eames they sang a variety of old and new favourites and a particular favourite was the soloist, Edith Pritchard whose singing of a few opera arias made clear why she’s had such international success at places like Glyndebourne. At the Noson Lawen there were several musical items - one being a duet sung by two members of the visiting choir as well as solos from other participants and a stand-up comedian and Dylan Thomas from yours truly.
There was a wide choice of talks, so one had to make choices. I was very happy with the choices I made. The unusual breadth of topics was shown in one of the talks - namely about the reintroduction of the Pine Marten into Wales. Nature enthusiast Natalie Buttriss showed pictures of this cute critter and explained how many sightings there had been by other enthusiasts; and I was happy to learn yet more things about David Thompson - and to realise that he has almost a cult following among the Welsh on the continent.
But the talk that intrigued me most was the one given by Wayne Davies, professor of Geography at the University if Calgary (and many other places), whose talk was entitled ‘History of the Welsh in Canada.’ It was he who emphasised the idea that the Welsh are overlooked in the telling of Canada’s story. He used as a symbol of this idea the following anecdote: 24, Sussex Drive, official residence of Canada’s Prime Ministers, was built by a Welshman and was originally called Gorffwysfa (place of rest). There used to be a plaque at the gate commemorating this fact. On a recent visit to Ottawa, Professor Davies noticed that the plaque was no longer there. The Welsh name has been erased from the history of the house! And did you know that James Bay was named for a Welsh explorer? And that a whole peninsula in Newfoundland was named by its Welsh settler? But the detail that I liked best was a new (to me) explanation for the name America, a derivation that has long bedevilled historians. In Bristol, the busy port from which early adventurers began their perilous journey across the Atlantic, there were many successful Welsh merchants. One of these was called Meurig. Now that was much too difficult for the English, so the name was anglicised to Merik. The seal of this merchant (and Prof Davies showed us a picture of it) said AMERIK. Now doesn’t that make you think?
Submitted by Vivien Bosley
Artist In Residence - St. Catherine Elementary and Junior High School
When I went to meet Mr. T (the principle), I wasn't sure how the programme would work out being a split school elementary and junior high, but Mr.T made a fantastic schedule for the residency. He made it so the mornings were grades K-3 then before lunch it was grades 2-4 and English language learning (ELL) then after lunch was grades 5-9. The first two weeks for K to grade 3 were Halloween themed projects. With these grades I did the "draw along with me" project where they drew bats, ghosts, cats and a graveyard. Then their final project was a small plasticine model of a ghost coming up from the grave. Other classes of the same grades that were after Halloween made snow related models snowmen standing or tobogganing and a penguin on an ice flow. Grades 3 to 9 worked on making hybrid creatures using tinfoil and tape. Each grade had me for 4 sessions for an hour and fifteen minutes, except grade 8/9 who had me for 2 hours. This project had 3 stages to it. First the students created a concept design of their creature in colour. Then they created a 3 dimensional version of their creature made out of tinfoil, paper, masking tape and then it was painted. The last part of the project was draw their creature in its environment doing what it does, in full colour. The grade 8/9 class first started by doing a 1 point perspective drawing of the inside of a mall. This also included how to draw lettering. Then they finished off with the hybrid creature project. Once again the program was successful the teachers loved the projects and admired my teaching ability and how I relate well with the students. And how all the students thought all my tattoos are cool.
Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, one less school will be afforded the opportunity to enjoy an artist in residence program from the St. David’s Welsh Society from the 2017-2018 school year onwards.