When is Welsh Valentine’s Day?

16 Dec 2021


Celebrate romance with Saint Dwynwen’s Day — the Welsh equivalent of Valentine’s Day

St Dwynwen’s Day may not be as widely celebrated as Valentine’s Day but it’s a lovely time to appreciate the one you love. From love spoons and romantic gifts to visiting Llanddwyn, here’s everything you need to know about Welsh Valentine’s Day.

Couple holding hands in the sunshine

When is Welsh Valentine’s Day?

Every year, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. In the UK, we express our love by sending cards and gifts to our significant other on the 14th of February. Valentine’s Day is a popular tradition in Wales. However, another, lesser-known romantic holiday occurs three weeks before.

Welsh Valentine’s Day (or Dydd Santes Dwynwen in Welsh) falls on the 25th of January every year. Similar to Valentine’s Day, this holiday celebrates love and romance, commemorating the Welsh patron saint of lovers, Saint Dwynwen. 

What are the origins of Welsh Valentine’s Day?

The tradition of Welsh Valentine’s Day dates back to the 5th century, and the story of Saint Dwynwen.

Who was Saint Dwynwen?

According to Welsh legend, Dwynwen was the beautiful daughter of King Brychan Brycheiniog. Living in the 5th century, she fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, a local boy. Her father was not happy about the relationship and arranged for Dwynwen to marry a prince instead.

The princess fled to the woods and prayed to God to release her from love and forget Maelon. An angel visited and gave Dwynwen a potion that would erase her memory and turn Maelon into a block of ice.

The story goes that God then appeared, and offered Dwynwen three wishes. She wished firstly for Maelon to be thawed. Then she wished for all true lovers to have better luck in romance than she had. Her final wish was that she would never have to get married.

After her wishes were granted, Dwynwen became a nun and set up a convent on an island, now known as Ynys Llanddwyn.

Dwynwen became the patron saint of lovers and her story has been passed down the generations through songs and poems.

Welsh flag

How do people celebrate Valentine’s Day in Wales?

Saint Dwynwen’s Day features a lot of similar celebrations to Valentine’s Day. It is a time to be thankful for, and spend time with loved ones — whether that’s a romantic partner, family, or friends.

Exchange cards and gifts

Just like Valentine’s Day, Saint Dwynwen’s Day often involves exchanging gifts and cards. Flowers and chocolates are popular choices. Chocolate has been a widely-exchanged token of romance for hundreds of years.

Though somewhat disputed nowadays, its reputation as an aphrodisiac dates as far back as the Mayans and Aztecs, who used cacao in their wedding rituals. Later, Victorian gentlemen popularised sending an elegant box of chocolates to woo their fair lady.

Whether or not chocolate really does fan the flames of passion, it can still make an excellent, thoughtful gift. If you’re looking for a present to delight your loved one this Welsh Valentine’s Day, why not take a look at our romantic selection? Whether your significant other enjoys white, milk, or dark chocolate, you’re sure to find the perfect treat.

Add a personalised note, declaring “dwi’n dy garu di” (I love you) for an extra special touch! 

Have a romantic meal

A great way to celebrate Welsh Valentine’s Day is to spend quality time together over a romantic meal. Whether you stay in and cook something delicious at home or venture to a favourite restaurant, eating together is a lovely way to reconnect with your loved one and remember why you fell in love.

If you fancy incorporating chocolate into your meal — and see if it really is an aphrodisiac — why not take a look at our creative cacao recipes?

And if you’d like to go out to eat you might find that restaurants are far less busy than on the 14th of February!

Couple cooking a romantic meal

Give love spoons

Another romantic tradition, and one that is unique to Wales, is to give love spoons. A Welsh love spoon is a wooden spoon with an ornately carved handle. According to folklore, love spoons were originally carved from a single piece of wood. Young men would handcraft them and present them to their sweetheart as a token of affection and dedication.

Over time, people began to carve specific symbols to convey different meanings. Sailors used to carve love spoons during their long journeys away. They would incorporate anchors to show their beau back on land that they desired to settle down.

Even now, hearts represent true love, a knot indicates the entwining of lives, and bells are popular on wedding anniversary spoons. Although love spoons originally denoted romantic affection, nowadays they can also make lovely gifts for other occasions — such as a birthday or christening.

Visit Llanddwyn

Just off the coast of Anglesey is Llanddwyn, a majestic peninsular, named after Saint Dwynwen — Llanddwyn translates as The Church of Saint Dwynwen. Legend has it that Dwynwen lived there for many years.

Another part of Saint Dwynwen’s tale says that Llanddwyn is home to a well, in which dwells a sacred fish who can predict whether couples will have a successful relationship. If a couple looks into the well and sees the fish swimming around, it is a sign of a faithful and devoted relationship.

Many couples enjoy making a pilgrimage to Llanddwyn on Welsh Valentine’s Day. Whether or not you believe the legend, you can expect stunning coastal scenery so it’s worth a visit!

Ynys Llanddwyn is a lovely place to visit on Welsh Valentine's Day

Show your love with Hotel Chocolat

Wondering how to celebrate? If you’d like some more ideas on romantic gestures, why not take a look at our article: Ways to surprise your partner on Valentine’s Day. Show your loved one how much you care, whether that’s on the 14th of February or Welsh Valentine’s Day!

And, of course, you can explore our collection of delectable Valentine’s gifts. There’s something to suit every taste.