A unique part of Pembrokeshire starts the New Year today (Wednesday) as the residents of Cwm Gwaun, celebrate Hen Galan.

The rest of the UK switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 to celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31.

But, for more than 200 years, those in Cwm Gwaun, or Gwaun Valley, some four miles from Fishguard, have held their own New Year’s Eve celebrations in line with the Julian calendar.

The change reflected improving scientific knowledge about how the universe worked, and was designed to correct discrepancies between the current calendar and astronomical events which were slowly going out of sync.

At the time many ordinary people, who didn’t understand the change in the calendar, thought they had lost 12 days of their life. It even led to riots in some parts of the world.

Once regarded as more important than Christmas, Gwaun Valley residents would prepare special food and drink well in advance for Hen Galan.

On January 13, the men would enjoy shooting, whilst wives at local farmhouses in the area would busily organise the food.

For the children, Hen Galan was spent travelling from house-to-house singing traditional rhymes to ‘let in’ the coming year and to wish the occupants health and happiness, and they would receive small amount of money from each house.

The true Welsh tradition of the Calennig is still practised to this day in the Gwaun Valley.

Children go from door to door singing and are given ‘Calennig’ in return: sweets or money.

One version of the song often heard in these parts goes:

Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi

Ac i bawb sydd yn y ty

Dyma fy nymuniad i

Blwyddyn Newydd dda i chi 

A happy new year to you

And to everyone in the house

This is my wish

A happy new year to you

In the front room pub of the famous Dyffryn Arms, Pontfaen, which has been in the same family since 1840, revelers gather to share a tipple, and the locals cook a large meal for the family.

The pub is still run by Bessie Davies who serves her beer from a cool jug.

If you like, you can also carry on the tradition of Mari Llwyd, where a horse’s head (a grey mare, hence the name) is paraded around on a pole, decorated with ribbons and greenery.

In years gone by this used to be a real horse’s skull, but in the last few decades a wooden effigy is often preferred.

Apparently when Mari Llwyd accompanies the singers, she brings good luck and fortune on the houses she visits. It’s a tradition still upheld by Heb Enw, a Morris dance team based in Llanfallteg, who regularly turn up to perform at Tafarn Sinc, Rosebush.