Calan Hen, Llandysul

I’m sure everyone linked with the Church sees their church as special and unique, and St Tysul’s has a historical tradition which helps us with that claim.

When the calendar changed in 1752, 11 days were lost, and on the old New Year’s Day, January 12, a feast was given to the harvest workers.  The rest of the day was spent playing a huge game resembling football, the black ball.  The two goals were the churches of Llanwenog and Llandysul, some 7 miles apart.  There was plenty of drinking and many injuries, and eventually someone died.

In 1833 things changed under the leadership of Reverend Enoch James, Vicar of Llandysul.  Revd James felt that the festivities needed changing from the drinking and injuries and turning back to God.

So the Calan Hen festival was created, with adults and children of the churches of the area gathering together in St Tysul’s Church, to recite scripture, answer questions on it and sing anthems.  The festival was always held on 12th January with children allowed to miss school to attend.

Calan Hen has been held in St Tysul’s every year, except for one, when it was held in St Ffraid’s Church, Tregroes.  St Tysul’s was closed due to lightning hitting the tower, and a warm welcome was received by all at Tregroes.

Today, the festival is held on the nearest Saturday to 12th January, starting with Morning Prayer at 10am.  The adults and children come to St Tysul’s early in the year to remember that even through change, the Lord Jesus is still with us to be celebrated and thanked.

This is a translation of the article in Welsh by Revd Gareth Reid, December 2017