EP27 Mari Lwyd, the Welsh Christmas "Ghost Horse": Secret history and folklore of the "bone horse" of Wales, a peculiar custom in which a horse's skull disturbs people late at night for beer and cake

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By Mark Rees. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The Mari Lwyd is arguably the most well-known character in Welsh folklore.

But why do people carry a horse's skull door-to-door late at night, and challenge their neighbours to a battle in verse?

In a similar way to Krampus, the Central European "evil Santa", and Gryla, the Icelandic troll, this curious Christmas custom fascinates people around the world.

In this special festive episode of the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales podcast, author Mark Rees (Ghosts of Wales) goes in search of some long-lost answers in the Welsh folklore archives.

He looks at:

  • What happens if the Mari Lwyd gains entry to your house, and how can you pacify it?
  • Does the skull hide a much darker meaning, and could it really be known as the Grey Death?
  • What connection does it have with Christianity and the Virgin Mary?
  • Are its origins linked with ancient Celtic beliefs in death and rebirth?
  • And most importantly - does it really terrify people just to get beer and cake?

Merry Christmas / Nadolig llawen!

Christmas on the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales with Mark Rees podcast

Christmas is a magical time for Welsh folklore and ghost stories, and every Thursday during December there'll be a special episode of the podcast dedicated to a festive subject.

There include such folkloric favourites like the Mari Lwyd, haunted pubs where the spooks make an appearance every December 24, and even a magical Christmas Tree.

Be sure to check out each episode on December 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 - yes, there'll even be new episodes of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

What is the Ghosts & Folklore of Wales with Mark Rees podcast?

Join Mark Rees (author of Ghosts of Wales/ Paranormal Wales etc.) as he explores the weird and wonderful history of Wales.

The world’s first podcast dedicated to Welsh ghost stories, folklore, myths and legends, GHOSTS & FOLKLORE OF WALES combines Mark’s research and insights from his books and articles with long-lost tales from some ancient tomes into a truly unique podcast experience.

New episodes are uploaded every Thursday, and feature everything from real-life encounters with pesky poltergeists to the fantastical beasts from the Mabinogion,

Be sure to subscribe, and for more details and to get in touch with Mark Rees, please visit:

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