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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 08/26/11

Friday, August 26, 2011

NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD OF WALES!!




  The National Eisteddfod of Wales is one of the great festivals of the world, attracting over 160,000 visitors every year. An eclectic mixture of culture, music, visual arts and all kinds of activities for people of all ages, there’s something for everyone on the Maes during the first week of August every year.
   The Eisteddfod is a travelling festival which belongs to the people of Wales – wherever they live, and this is an integral part of its appeal. The festival visits areas in north and south Wales alternately, and hosting the National Eisteddfod is a great boost for any area.
   It’s an ideal opportunity to promote and encourage people to use and learn Welsh locally, to take part in cultural activities in their area, and it’s also a great opportunity to promote the region as a tourist destination. The economic effect on the area is huge, with the Eisteddfod contributing between £6-8 million to the local economy during the week.




   The Eisteddfod is the home of literature, music, dance, recitation, theatre, visual arts, science and technology, and all types of culture in Wales, and although the festival only lasts for a week, the preparatory work and the buzz surrounding the event and all its activities lasts for more than two years before the Eisteddfod. Many areas choose to continue organising events promoting the Welsh language and culture once the festival is over.

History

   The National Eisteddfod of Wales can be traced back to 1176 when it is said that the first Eisteddfod was held, under the auspices of Lord Rhys, at his castle in Cardigan. There he held a grand gathering to which were invited poets and musicians from all over the country. A chair at the Lord's table was awarded to the best poet and musician, a tradition that prevails in the modern day National Eisteddfod.






   Following 1176, many eisteddfodau were held throughout Wales, under the patronage of Welsh gentry and noblemen. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, an Eisteddfod of historical significance was held at the Ivy Bush Inn in Carmarthen, when the Gorsedd of Bards first became officially associated with this national event. By this time, the Eisteddfod had developed in to a fully-fledged folk festival on a large scale.
In 1880, the National Eisteddfod association was formed and charged with the responsibility of staging an annual festival to be held in North and South Wales alternately, and with the exception of 1914 and 1940, this target has been successfully achieved.




Gorsedd of the Bards

   The Gorsedd of Bards of the Isle of Britain has a long and interesting history dating back to the end of the eighteenth century.
   Iolo Morganwg, an academic, originally from Llancarfan in Glamorgan, created the Gorsedd, and this happened on Primrose Hill, London in 1792. Iolo Morganwg believed that the fact that the culture and heritage of the Celts belonged to the Welsh was a fact which needed emphasising, and he believed that the creation of the Gorsedd was the perfect vehicle to reflect this.
   In 2009, a commemorative plaque was unveiled on Primrose Hill to celebrate Iolo Morganwg’s contribution and the creation of the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain.




   The first link between the Gorsedd and the Eisteddfod was in 1819 at the Carmarthen Eisteddfod, and since the creation of the National Eisteddfod in its current form in 1861, a strong and close relationship has developed, with the Gorsedd playing an important role in the Eisteddfod every year.

The Gorsedd Today

   Most members of the Gorsedd are poets, writers, musicians and artists, who either join when they win one of the Eisteddfod’s main competitions, sit an exam or when they are awarded a degree in Welsh or Music from a Welsh university.
   A number of people are also honored by the Gorsedd every year, to celebrate their contribution to Wales, and these include such notable people as Bryn Terfel, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Rhodri Morgan and Ioan Gruffudd.






   The Gorsedd also honours some people who have worked tirelessly for the National Eisteddfod through the years – often behind the scenes, and these individuals receive the same honour as our famous faces.
   New members are honoured in ceremonies held at the Gorsedd Stones on the Eisteddfod Maes on the Monday and Friday mornings of the festival week. These ceremonies are led by the Archdruid, who also leads the main ceremonies held on the Pavilion stage during the week. The Archdruid is elected for three years, and he is the Head of the Gorsedd of the Bards.






    For many, the Gorsedd processions through the Eisteddfod Maes are amongst the week’s highlights. These are held three times during the week following the main ceremonies held on the Pavilion stage.
   Monday is the Crowning Ceremony; on Wednesday, the Eisteddfod and the Gorsedd honours the winner of the Prose Medal, and the Chairing of the Bard ceremony is held on Friday. The Gorsedd escort the winning bard or writer – if there is a winner – from the Pavilion and around the Maes. This is an opportunity for the public to enjoy the splendour of the Gorsedd and congratulate the successful winner.

Celebrate 150

    In 2011, the modern day National Eisteddfod of Wales celebrates 150 years. Over the past century and a half, Wales has changed, and the Festival has developed, broadening its appeal in response to these changes over the years. Today’s National Eisteddfod is very different to the festivals of the 1860s, but its primary aim remains the same, to promote the language and culture of Wales.





   The National Eisteddfod is a travelling festival, visiting north and south Wales alternately, providing the whole of Wales with an opportunity to visit the festival locally every few years, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment, relevant to communities in different parts of Wales, and giving each festival an unique vibe and local feel, whilst retaining its national identity.
   Our 150th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the festival’s contribution to the cultural, economic, linguistic and community legacy of Wales, whilst looking to the future and at the way in which the festival will develop in years to come. Please join us on our journey and support us in celebrating Wales’ leading festival, the National Eisteddfod.