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Welsh Folk Lore - Birds And Beasts.

Music And Bird Singing Heard Before Death
The writer, both in Denbighshire and Carnarvonshire, was to...

Birds And Beasts
Folk-lore respecting animals is common in Wales. It has been...

Birds Singing Before February
Should the feathered songsters sing before February it is a...

Birds Flocking In Early Autumn
When birds gather themselves together and form flocks in th...

Birds' Feathers
Feather beds should be made of domestic birds' feathers, su...

The Cock
Caesar, Bk. v., c.12, tells us that the Celtic nation did n...

Cock-fighting
Cock-fighting was once common in Wales, and it was said tha...

The Goose
Should a goose lay a soft egg, a small egg, or two eggs in ...

The Crow
The crow figures much in Welsh folk-lore. In many ways he ...

Crows' Feathers
In Montgomeryshire it was, at one time, supposed that if a ...

The Cuckoo Y Gog
The cuckoo is a sacred bird. It is safe from the gamekeepe...

A White Cock
A white cock was looked upon as an unlucky bird, thus:-- ...

Crane
The crane is often mistaken for the heron. When the crane ...

Ducks
When ducks sportively chase each other through the water, a...

Eagle
Persons who had eaten eagle's flesh had power to cure erysipe...

The Goat Sucker
A curious notion prevailed respecting this bird, arrived at...

Putting Hens To Sit
Placing the eggs in the nest for hens, geese, and ducks to ...

The Heron
The heron as it flies slowly towards the source of a river ...

The Jackdaw
This bird is considered sacred, because it frequents church...

The Magpie
The magpie was considered a bird of ill-omen. No one liked t...

The Owl
The hooting of an owl about a house was considered a sign o...

Peacock
The peacock's shrill note is a sign of rain. Its call is s...

Pigeon
If the sick asks for a pigeon pie, or the flesh of a pigeon...

The Raven
The raven has ever enjoyed a notoriously bad name as a bird...

Robin Redbreast
Ill luck is thought to follow the killer of dear Robin Redb...

The Sea Gull
It is believed that when sea gulls leave the sea for the mo...

The Swallow
The joy with which the first swallow is welcomed is almost ...

The Swan
The eggs of the swan are hatched by thunder and lightning. ...

The Swift
This bird's motions are looked upon as weather signs. Its ...

Tit Major Or Sawyer
The Rev. E. V. Owen, Vicar of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire, ...

The Wren
The Wren's life is sacred, excepting at one time of the yea...

The Wood Pigeon
The thrice repeated notes of five sounds, with an abrupt no...

The Magpie Teaching A Wood Pigeon How To Make A Nest
The wood pigeon makes an untidy nest, consisting of a few b...

Woodpecker
The woodpecker's screech was a sign of rain. This bird is ...

Ass
The stripe over the shoulders of the ass is said to have be...

The Bee
The little busy bee has been from times of old an object of...

Buying A Hive Of Bees
In the central parts of Denbighshire people suppose that a ...

Time Of Bee Swarming
The month in which bees swarm is considered of the greatest...

The Day Of Swarming
Sunday is the favourite day for bee swarming. Country peop...

Luck Comes With A Strange Swarm
It is considered very lucky indeed to find that a strange s...

It Is Considered Unlucky For Bees To Fly Away From Their Owner
As the coming of a strange swarm of bees is indicative of g...

Bees In A Roof
It was thought lucky when bees made their home in the roof,...

Informing Bees Of A Death In A Family
Formerly it was the custom to tell the bees of a death in t...

Putting Bees In Mourning
This is done after a death in a family, and the bees are pu...

Stolen Bees
It was believed that stolen bees would not make honey, and ...

A Swarm Entering A House
Should a swarm enter a house, it was considered unlucky, an...

Cat
The cat was thought to be a capital weather glass. If she ...

Cows
Cows Kneeling on Christmas Morn. In the upland parishe...

Crickets
It is lucky to have crickets in a house, and to kill one is...

Hare
Caesar, bk. v., ch. xii., states that the Celts do not rega...

Haddock
The haddock has a dark spot on each side its gills, and sup...

Hedgehog
It was believed that hedgehogs sucked cows, and so firmly w...

Horse
A white horse figures in the superstition of school childre...

Lady-bird
This pretty spotted little beetle was used formerly in the ...

Mice
A mouse nibbling clothes was a sign of disaster, if not dea...

Moles
Moles are said to have no eyes. If mole hills move there w...

Pigs
Pigs used to be credited with the power of seeing the wind....

The Snake Serpent
The snake was supposed to be able to understand what men sa...

Flying Serpents
The traditional origin of these imaginary creatures was tha...

Snake Rings Or Glain Nadroedd
Mention is made in Camden of snake rings. Omitting certain...

Sheep
It was thought that the devil could assume any animal's for...

Spider
The long-legged spider, or, as it is generally called in Wa...

The Squirrel
Hunting this sprightly little animal became at Christmas th...

The Blind Worm Or Slow Worm
This reptile is a snake, varying from twelve to eighteen in...



The Wren






Category: BIRDS AND BEASTS.

The Wren's life is sacred, excepting at one time of the year, for should
anyone take this wee birdie's life away, upon him some mishap will fall.
The wren is classed with the Robin:--

The robin and the wren
Are God's cock and hen.

The cruel sport of hunting the wren on St. Stephen's Day, which the
writer has a dim recollection of having in his boyhood joined in, was the
one time in the year when the wren's life was in jeopardy.

The Rev. Silvan Evans, in a letter to the Academy, which has been
reproduced in Bye-Gones, vol. vii., p. 206, alludes to this sport in
these words:--

Something similar to the 'hunting of the wren' was not unknown to the
Principality as late as about a century ago, or later. In the Christmas
holidays it was the custom of a certain number of young men, not
necessarily boys, to visit the abodes of such couples as had been married
within the year. The order of the night--for it was strictly a nightly
performance--was to this effect. Having caught a wren, they placed it on
a miniature bier made for the occasion, and carried it in procession
towards the house which they intended to visit. Having arrived they
serenaded the master and mistress of the house under their bedroom window
with the following doggerel:--

Dyma'r dryw,
Os yw e'n fyw,
Neu dderyn to
I gael ei rostio.

That is:--

Here is the wren,
If he is alive,
Or a sparrow
To be roasted.

If they could not catch a wren for the occasion, it was lawful to
substitute a sparrow (ad eryn to). The husband, if agreeable, would then
open the door, admit the party, and regale them with plenty of Christmas
ale, the obtaining of which being the principal object of the whole
performance.

The second line in the verse, Os yw e'n fyw, intimates that possibly
the wren is dead--If he is alive. This would generally be the case, as
it was next to impossible to secure the little thing until it had been
thoroughly exhausted, and then the act of pouncing upon it would itself
put an end to its existence.

Perhaps the English doggerel was intended to put an end to this cruel
sport, by intimating that the wee bird belonged to God, was one of His
creatures, and that therefore it should not be abused.

There is a Welsh couplet still in use:--

Pwy bynnag doro nyth y dryw,
Ni chaiff ef weled wyneb Duw.

Whoever breaks a wren's nest,
Shall never see God's face.

This saying protects the snug little home of the wren. Much the same
thing is said of the Robin's nest, but I think this was put, Whoever
robs a robin's nest shall go to hell.

Another Welsh couplet was:--

Y neb a doro nyth y dryw,
Ni chaiff iechyd yn ei fyw.

Whoever breaks the wren's nest,
Shall never enjoy good health.

Although the robin and the wren were favourites of heaven, still it was
supposed that they were under some kind of curse, for it was believed
that the robin could not fly through a hedge, it must always fly over,
whilst on the other hand, the wren could not fly over a hedge, but it was
obliged to make its way through it. (See Robin, p. 329).





Next: The Wood Pigeon

Previous: Tit Major Or Sawyer



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