Thursday, September 8, 2022

What do President Lincoln and Hillary Clinton Share? By Cora Leland

  Welsh heritage!  

When my parents moved from Los Angeles to Texas, my Gaelic relatives knew they (my folks) had left civilization forever.  Southern California had long been established by Welsh as a haven for their stubborn natures.  My grandmother's father held one of the first post offices in rural California.

I love the Welsh harvest festivals that culminate with what we know as Halloween.  Calan Awst takes place on August 1, between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. (In Anglo-Saxon, this is called Lammas; in Ireland it is a similar holiday, with loaves taken to the church, marking the first harvest.) 

Lammas Day celebrates the new harvest; a loaf is brought to the church.
Lammas Loaf (shaped like an owl) with salt eyes

Alban Elfed occurs at the Autumn equinox, Sept. 21 and is marked by eating and drinking together before the winter comes.

Finally, there's a festival like Halloween (or the Celtic Samhain) -- Calan Gaeaf-- on Oct. 31-Nov. 1, which ushers in winter. It's the final harvest celebration.  (In some nations, the date lies between the summer and fall.)

My complete favorite of all Welsh festivals, though, is Mari Lwyd. Here's a brief video from Wales. (Or a description if you don't want to watch it right now. 'Traditional black and white film of men in the village of Llangynwyd carrying out the tradition of the Mari Lwyd, BBC Wales program, Lolfa, 1966.') 

Some say it's a mid-winter festival; others say it occurs at Christmas time. 

 The Welsh temperament

Similar to the Native Americans in the mid-1800's, Wales had been ordered to accept 'better schools' from the English government (the Blue Books Scandal).  Instruction would be in English, not Welsh, language and would be provided by British missionaries. 

Again, similar to threats to Native American autonomy, Welsh morals were seen to be much lower than Britain could tolerate. But the missionary and other English-speaking teachers could not, in their words, teach where the country was filled with 'working class students.'

But American Indians were often seen as family, as it's said of General Crook, here with his Apache scout.  

Lieutenant Colonel Pratt, who'd begun the compulsory Native boarding schools that swept the nation, was certain that education was the key to Native assimilation in society. In a speech, records say that he declared, "Kill the Indian in him, and save the man." This difficult point of view was held by thousands of people.

Indian Educator Lt. Col. Pratt

For the Welsh, riots and closures stopped the mandatory government schools. However, Welsh language declined from that time onward.  Today, according to the 2010 census, Welsh is spoken by 19% of the population and English is spoken by 99% of the population.

California soon accepted thousands of Welsh emigrants, skilled in industrial techniques the new country needed.  Because Wales had gone from a farming country earlier than most during the Industrial Revolution, Welsh workers in the heavy industries had more time to become skilled workers. 

The new Welsh emigrants were single men who had left their families behind in Wales. Others emigrated to find better-paying jobs than factory work or farming. Religion and Welsh traditions were important for these newcomers. The Christianity practiced in Wales was known in the rest of England simply as 'dissent.'

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1 comment:

  1. I don't know much about Wales. My husband and I were there one day, but that doesn't really count. We were on a tour, and didn't get to investigate. We had dinner in a castle, and sat next to a man who turned out to be a minister of our denominations who knew many of the same people. He was with a different tour group.


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