UK village that celebrates New Year in the middle of January | UK | News

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UK village that celebrates New Year in the middle of January | UK | News

Situated in west Wales, the Gwaun Valley in Pembrokeshire is a little village tucked away from the rest of civilisation by steep, twisting roads, deep rivers, and thick trees.

The Gwaun Valley is a quiet, pastoral landscape that was shaped by geological convulsions from melting glaciers during the last Ice Age, which created the fertile water meadows and flat floodplains of today.

There is something else that is unique about the village – its 300 residents celebrate the Han Galan (the Old New Year) on January 13 instead of January 1. 

The community bases its annual celebration on the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar, followed in most of the world. The tradition dates back to 1752 when the Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in Britain.

Bonni Davies, the editor of the village’s local newsletter, told Sky News: « According to the old calendar that we used to have, [the new year] fell then on 13 January and the people of the Gwaun Valley decided that they would carry on celebrating on the same day as usual. »

The valley’s residents are not a fortnight late; rather, they are one of the few remaining groups that continue to follow their traditions.

Everyone welcomes in the New Year together. Children roam the valley, walking from one house to the next, singing carols and songs in Welsh with the hope of being given « calennig » in return. « Calennig » is often sweets or money, and pennies would be thrown at crowds of small children. 

Ms Davies said: « From a baby to 80- or 90-year-olds, everyone will come out and socialise with one another. »

She explained how new families moving to the area want to get involved with the traditions: « Even people who move into the valley adopt the tradition and get the ‘calennig’ and things ready. It’s important to the area. »

Another very real link to the past is the old pub at Pontfaen, the Dyffryn Arms. In the same family since 1840, it is a still working reminder of the country pubs of earlier generations.

The Gwaun Valley begins in Fishguard, and is 10 miles long, running within the confines of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

There are many woodland walks to explore in the area, leading up to the Preseli Hills, through beautiful twisted oak onto moorland and stunning hilltops, with fantastic views over the Pembrokeshire tundra.

In places, there is also igneous dolerite, the famous « bluestone » that forms the inner ring of Stonehenge

This is an especially beautiful landscape in late summer when the warm pink of heather in bloom adds colour to breathtaking views, and the area has been dubbed a hiker’s paradise. 

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