Calennig [kaˈlɛnɪɡ] is a Welsh word meaning "New Year celebration/gift", although it literally translates to "the first day of the month", deriving from the Latin word kalends. The English word "Calendar" also has its root in this word.
Celebrations in Cardiff
The capital of Wales, Cardiff, holds Calennig celebrations at the Cardiff Civic Centre to welcome in the New Year, including free live music, fairground rides, a midnight fireworks display and an opportunity to ice-skate into the new year at Cardiff's Winter Wonderland.
Many people give gifts on New Years morning, with children having skewered apples stuck with raisins and fruit. In some parts of Wales, people must visit all their relatives by midday to collect their Calennig, and celebrations and traditions can vary from area to area. In Stations of the Sun (ISBN 0-19-820570-8), Ronald Hutton gives an example the following examples of Calennig rhyme from 1950s Aberystwyth,
Dydd calan yw hi heddiw,
Rwy'n dyfod ar eich traws
I 'mofyn am y geiniog,
Neu grwst, a bara a chaws.
O dewch i'r drws yn siriol
Heb newid dim o'ch gwedd;
Cyn daw dydd calan eto
Bydd llawer yn y bedd.
("Today is the start of the new year, and I have come to you to ask for coins, or a crust, and bread and cheese. O come to the door cheerfully without changing your appearance; Before the next arrival of the new year many will be dead.")
Ronald Hutton also notes that in the south-east of Wales and in the Forest of Dean area, the skewered apple itself was known as the Calennig, and in its most elaborate form consisted of "an apple or orange, resting on three sticks like a tripod, smeared with flour, stuck with nuts, oats or wheat, topped with thyme or another fragrant herb and held by a skewer."
When I was a boy in Caerleon-on-Usk, the town children got the biggest and bravest and gayest apple they could find in the loft, deep in the dry bracken. They put bits of gold leaf upon it. They stuck raisins into it. They inserted into the apple little sprigs of box, and they delicately slit the ends of hazel-nuts, and so worked that the nuts appeared to grow from the ends of the holly leaves ... At last, three bits of stick were fixed into the base of the apple tripod-wise; and so it borne round from house to house; and the children got cakes and sweets, and-those were wild days, remember-small cups of ale.
- The above rhyme has been corrected from the given version by Ronald Hutton in his book, The Stations of The Sun, which can be found on page 67.