Once upon a time (around the 5th century to be precise), in a land far away (well, it’s four hours down the M4 for me) lived a fair maid named Dwynwen. Daughter of the then King of Wales, Brychan Brycheiniog (yes, it’s as as difficult to pronounce as it looks), she was said to be one of 24 children. Dwynwen was renowned across the land for her purity, her strong religious beliefs and her beauty.
As young girls often do, Dwynwen fell in love with a young, handsome prince named Maelon Dafodrill. Alas, their love was not to be. Dwynwen’s father had already arranged that she be married to another (well, he did have 24 kids to worry about!).
This is where the tale get’s kind of hazy. Either Maelon was so angry at not being able to have his love that he attacked her, or Dwynen was so distraught by the news of her arranged marriage that she ran into the woods. Either way there’s woods and a very unhappy young girl involved, OK (still with me?).
Dwynwen prays to God and begs to have Maelon erased from her memory. Her prayer is answered by an angel who appears to Dwynwen offering a sweet potion designed to make her forget about her love – called schnapps. (I totally made that last bit up). As a side note, it also turns her lover into ice – go figure?!
She is then granted three wishes (yep, an answered prayer and three wishes. This girl was seriously ‘down with the God dude’). With her first wish she thaws Maelon (who she’s supposed to have forgotten all about, bit flakey that bit), with her second she asks God to look kindly on the hopes and dreams of true lovers and with her last she asks that she may never marry. God fulfils her three wishes and in thanks she promises to devote the rest of her life to God’s service.
Our young heroine then become a nun and settles on Llanddwyn Island, which rests just off the west coast of Anglesey. The remains of a 16th century Tudor church can sill be seen in Llanddwyn Island today, although the legend is so strong the site has been attributed to that of a church founded by Dwynwen.
So why did #StDwynwensDay trend on Twitter on the 25th of January ?
For her hope for lovers and her service to God, Dwynen was made a saint – the sacred saint of lovers. Across Wales (more so in the Welsh speaking regions), lovers give each other cards and gifts on St Dwynen’s Day. So St Dwynen’s Day is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine’s Day – only with a slightly less gruesome ending for the saint and more difficult pronunciation 🙂