Welsh - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. Various Protestant churches are dominant in Wales. In 1536 the Church of England became the official faith of the Welsh; by the early nineteenth century, the majority of the Welsh were nonconformists: Calvinist-Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Unitarians, etc. In 1914 the Church of England was declared no longer the official church of Wales, but the four ancient cathedrals retain their importance for all denominations.

Religious Practitioners. Ministers are respected leaders and moral exhorters in their individual parishes.

Ceremonies. The most important services are the weekly Sunday services and special evening prayer services. Others are Christmas eve and morning services, New Year's Eve, Palm Sunday, Easter, and Harvest Home. Saint David's Day (1 March) for the Patron Saint of Wales has increasingly become a secular holiday related to ethnic consciousness. Bible study, or Sunday schools with age-graded groups for young people and adults, have traditionally been important.

Arts. The local and national literary, musical, and cultural eisteddfods are the core of the Welsh arts. The Welsh poetic tradition remains uniquely strong even today.

Medicine. Medical beliefs and practices are basically the same as those in modern England (i.e., socialized medicine with physicians, surgeons, modern clinics, and hospitals).

Death and Afterlife. Death and the ensuing funeral, with the gathering of the kindred, were traditionally the great reminder of family unity. Every local household was expected to have at least one representative at the funeral and the feast provided for by the family of the deceased afterwards. In the past, careful note was made as to who was and was not there. In some areas the list from the funeral guest book was published in the local newspaper. The basic Protestant belief in the soul going either to heaven or hell was common among the Welsh.


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