THE UK #3 WALES




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Wales

It's also known as Cymru and often referred to as the 'land of song'. 
And 2017 is the YEAR OF LEGENDS in Wales.
A beautiful country with rich culture and heritage. It's sometimes underestimated in comparison to other countries that make up the UK. 

Still, there are a lot of fascinating places to visit. But, for a good start, try to answer the following questions about Wales.



The history of Wales is strictly connected with the Celts, who started migrating from Europe around 1000 BC. However, the first recorded pieces of information about Wales can be dated back to 48 AD. At the beginning, people living there spoke Brythonic (a Celtic language). Later on it changed into Welsh. The first castles in Wales were built as early as in 11th century. Nevertheless, those built upon order of Edward I and called “The Iron Ring” are said to be the most impressive.

Moreover, four castles make up the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd. These are the castles of...

Beaumaris


Caernarfon 

Conwy

Harlech

But Wales is not only castles! It's also a distinct language, called Cymraeg (the Welsh language). It's an official language along with English. Welsh is spoken by more or less 20% of the population. It's related to Cornish and Breton, and actually it's on of Europe's oldest living languages! Yes, the language is used in everyday conversations as well and can be easily heard throughout Wales.

Because in Wales two languages are considered official, they are both used, learnt at schools, written on roadsigns, and so on. According to certain legal acts they should be treated equally. 

1. The Welsh Language Act 1993, {1.2.} "(...) in the conduct of public business and the administration of justice in Wales, the Welsh and English languages should be treated on a basis of equality".

2. Government of Wales Act 1998, {46 (1)} "The Assembly shall in the conduct of its business give effect, so far as it both appropriate in the circumstances and reasonably practicable, to the principle that the English and Welsh languages should be treated on a basis of equality".

3. Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011, {Part 1, 1 (3)(a)}"require the Welsh and English languages to be treated on the basis of equality in the conduct of the proceedings of the National Assembly for Wales".

SNOWDONIA

It's a beautiful mountain area. In the Snowdonia National Park you can see the biggest mountain in Wales and England. It's called Snowdon (3,560ft). The views are stunning, breathtaking. Have a look at just a few pictures. What do you think?







THE RED DRAGON (Y Ddraig Goch)
It's a symbol that features a lot of objects. You can see it on T-shirts, flagpoles, signposts, badges, notebooks. It's been a symbol of Wales for some 2,000 years now! It's an inseparable element of the Welsh flag. The flag Wales uses currently was officially adopted in 1959.

SYMBOLS

There are of course a number of symbols connected with Wales. These are:

  • the leek - this vegetable has been valued for its medical properties. But, apart from that, according to a legend, Welsh warriors were able to distinguish their friends from foes thanks to leeks hidden in the warrior's caps. Whatever the reasons, the leek has been embedded in Welsh culture and symbolism for ages. 

  • the daffodil, on the other hand, is not so old; it can be dated back as early as to 19th century (just to compare the leek has been a Welsh symbol since at least 7th century). It symbolizes creativity, optimism, vitality. 
  • the flag - the dragon has been associated with Wales for a very long time and it's probably the oldest national flag in use.

  • the harp - it's considered to be the national instrument that has been strictly connetected with folk music and dance. The so-called triple harp is of great popularity in Wales and is also know as simply the Welsh harp. 


  • the red kite - it's not a kite at all! It's a bird and it's a national symbol of wildlife. It was also chosen a favourite bird by the Welsh people (36% of voters picked that particular one). If you want to see these beautiful birds go to the Forestry Commission's Bwlch Nant yr Arian Centre.
  • the Prince of Wales Feathers, it's the heraldic badge featuring three white ostrich feathers.

  • the Sessile Oak, aka the Welsh Oak is an unofficial national tree.

ST DAVID

St. David was a bishop living in the 5th century who founded monasteries in Wales and Brittany. He's the patron saint of Wales and his day is celebrated on 1st March every year.

ST DWYNWEN

...the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Her day is celebrated annually on 25th Jan. in Wales. A legend has it that she lived in the 5th century and fell in love with a prince Maelon Dafodrill. Unfortunately, her father had decided she would marry another man. This made her so unhappy that she begged God to help her forget her lover. An angel came to her in her dream and gave her a sweet magic potion. It could make her forget about everything connected with Maelon, but he would be turned into ice. Then, she was given three wishes and all of them were fulfilled. Do you know what she asked for?

1. "I wish Maelon was thawed".
2. "I wish all the dreams and hopes of true lovers were met".
3. "I wish I never married anyone".

After that, she devoted her whole life to God's service. She founded a monastery on Llanddwyn, which has been a place of pilgrimage since 465AD (when she died).


Did you know that...

 ...Mount Everest was actually named after a Welshman?
It was Sir George Everest living in Gwernvale, Breconshire.

 ...it's believed that there are more castles per square mile than in any other place in the world?
There are more than 600 castles.

...certain letters do not appear in the Welsh Alphabet?
The Welsh Alphabet consists of 28 letters: a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y. There's no letter 'j'. However, nowadays it's often included between 'i' and 'l' because of loanwords from English. Going further, no letters 'k', 'v', 'x' and 'z' are there in the alphabet even though they appear in technical terms, such as: zero or kilogram. Normally, these words are spelled with Welsh letters: sero and cilogram.

...the place with the longest name in Europe is in Wales?
It's called 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch' (which means "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave"). If you wonder how it should be pronounced watch the short video below.

Can you repeat that? LOL, I can't. Animated Laughing

...a famous actor starring (among others) in "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Meet Joe Black" was born in Wales?
Yes, that's true. Anthony Hopkins was born on 31st December 1937 in Port Talbot, Wales.


And now, a short and easy exercise for the dessert:



What other interesting things about Wales to you know? Leave a comment! :D

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