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Where to celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen in London

By Jess Phillips
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I know what you’re thinking: Dydd Santes Dwynwen, What on earth is that? Well, folks, it’s time for a lesson. For most of the UK, plastic roses, Thornton’s chocolates and ‘I love you to the moon and back’ merch is panic-bought ahead of Valentine’s Day, February 14. In Wales, the rush comes a little sooner, on January 25. Why? Because we have our very own day dedicated to luuuuurve.

Truth be told, the story of our national saint of love is a disturbing one. According to legend, Dwynwen fell in love with a man named Maeleon, but was forbidden from marrying him because she was betrothed to another. Instead of taking it on the chin, Maeleon decided to rape her. Long story short, an angel appeared and turned him into a block of ice, Dwynwen vowed never to marry and pleaded with God to protect all true lovers. Fast-forward to the modern-day and soppy Welsh folk exchange cards and cwtches (hugs, duh) as a tribute to one of the OG feminist queens. 

There are around 300,000 Welsh natives in London, so if you’re looking to impress a spouse from over the bridge or just want to avoid the masses next month, here are the best Welsh spots for wooing that special someone this weekend.

Attend a one-day Welsh course at London Welsh Centre

We hate to break it to you but quoting ‘Gavin and Stacey’ or shouting ‘popty ping’ at the Welsh person in your life doesn’t make you fluent. Learn the Celtic language over a ‘cwrw’ (beer) or two. And before you ask, yes, ‘moron’ does mean carrot in Welsh.

London Welsh Centre, Jan 25, from 10am. £100 for a couple.

Watch the London Welsh Rugby team play

Nothing says romance to a Welsh person quite like rugby. Watching 30 men rip flesh from bone for 80 minutes while you wash down a few pints of Carlsberg is an aphrodisiac Ann Summers would love to be able to bottle. Head to the Old Deer Park in Richmond to support the boys behind enemy lines. 

Old Deer Park, Jan 25, 2pm, free.

Enjoy a pint at The Half Moon

A firm favourite of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, The Half Moon in Herne Hill is said to be where inspiration for ‘Under Milk Wood’ struck. The Grade II-listed building merges tradition with minimalism. Think exposed brick walls, wicker lamps, open fires and a saloon-style bar. Why not make like the Laugharne man and order yourself a whisky? 

The Half Moon Pub, Herne Hill, 20 percent off food and drink throughout January.  

Attend a service at The Borough Welsh Congregation Chapel

Religious or not, there’s something ethereal about hearing Welsh hymns being sung. The passion in the congregation’s voices and pitch-perfect delivery make it a Proms-worthy listen. The service is delivered bi-lingually, and rumour has it, BBC presenter Huw Edwards pops in from time to time to play the organ.

The Borough Welsh Congregation Chapel, Southwark. Services take place most second, third and fourth Sundays of the month from 11am.

Eat welsh rarebit at St John

So much more than cheese on toast, welsh rarebit is to Wales what haggis is to Scotland: sacred. For some of the best takes in town, head to St John in Smithfield for a hearty portion of the gooey stuff. 

St John, Smithfield. £7.

For a taste of Wales all-year-round take a look at London’s best rugby clubs.

Looking to romance  that special someone in February? Find Valentine’s events in London.

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